Katya Marsakova Zoubkova of Tyumen, Russia, was recently honored as a Distinguished Alumna for the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University.
This honor was presented Nov. 6 at the Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame Awards Dinner, held at the Devon Boathouse, home of OCU Rowing and Canoe/Kayak, on the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City.
The award was accepted on her behalf by Rev. Tom Hoffman of Tulsa. He worked with Rev. Zoubkova when he served as a missionary in Russia in the mid-1990s.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990, the Oklahoma Conference Campus Ministries and OKC-St. Luke’s UMC sought ways to enter into ministry in Russia. Their mission centered on Ulyanovsk, a city 600 miles east of Moscow.
There Zoubkova learned of a student exchange program with OCU and accepted an invitation to complete her bachelor’s degree. She completed her degree from the Wimberly School of Religion in 1995.
Upon returning home, she was named director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Eurasian Area of The United Methodist Church.
In addition to coordinating this ministry across nine countries, she helped begin an ecumenical student ministry at the university in Ulyanovsk.
Zoubkova later returned to the United States, to earn her Master of Divinity degree from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo. While there, she served as an intern at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan.
Her first appointment in her home country was to pastor a church in Pervouralsk, a city in the shadow of the Ural Mountains in western Siberia, on the border between Europe and Asia.
She soon married and moved with her husband to his home region, Tyumen, Siberia, in southern Russia near the border with Kazakhstan. There were no United Methodist churches there.
While employed as a social worker, Zoubkova founded a local congregation.
Today, she serves as pastor of Tyumen United Methodist Church of the Salvation; she is the only female pastor in the region. The church she leads is involved in humanitarian aid to orphans and in a prison ministry for prisoners and guards. The growing church is now looking to start a building program.
Rev. Zoubkova will be in Oklahoma in April, to visit her partner churches and renew old friendships. One of her stops will be at her alma mater, and OCU has invited her to share her inspirational story with students and friends.
She truly embodies the ideal of servant leadership, the core of OCU’s mission, and is a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Alumna honor.