Project Profile—Methodist e-Academy
E-Academy Equipping Future Pastors
Future pastors and lay leaders are acquiring theological education and growing spiritually through the Methodist e-Academy (#3021181) in Central and Southern Europe and the Balkans.
"The e-Academy is a way to bring students from all over Europe (together) with modern communication and block seminars," said Bishop Patrick Streiff of the Central and Southern Europe Episcopal Area.
German and English are the spoken languages in the e-Academy. It now works with pastors seeking ordination, predominantly those who have studied in non-Methodist theological institutions, explains the Rev. Üllas Tankler, executive secretary for mission relationships for the General Board of Global Ministries.
Plans are for the program eventually to include laity. Church executives in the region are committed to empowering lay people to be leaders in the church. Congregations will not grow, Streiff said, unless clergy and laity work side-by-side.
"It is just like a tree; the trunk has to divide into branches, which in turn will bear blossoms and fruit," said Streiff. "A person is a good leader when he or she allows others to develop beside him or her."
Streiff chairs the board of directors for the e-Academy, which began as an initiative of United Methodist seminaries in Europe. The board includes representatives from the four episcopal areas in Europe and Eurasia, the British Methodist Church and autonomous Methodist churches in Portugal and Italy.
The academy offers six basic courses on United Methodist history, theology, polity and mission of the church. Twenty-five students are now enrolled. Students gather at various locations for classes delivered via the Internet. They can also video conference with each other. Several former students have been inspired to develop e-learning programs in their home countries for future pastors and church leaders.
David Field, e-Academy coordinator, said new courses that will begin in 2014 will equip pastors to become missional leaders who can facilitate congregational growth, revitalization and new church starts.
"The program of the e-Academy is a creative visionary solution in Europe that uniquely meets the ministerial and missional needs and at the same time promotes the Methodist identity and integration of many different countries across the continent," said Tankler.
Learn more at www.methodist-e-academy.org.
Christine Kumar is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Md.
This article was originally published in the November-December 2013 issue of Interpreter, www.interpretermagazine.org. Interpreter, the official ministry magazine of The United Methodist Church, is a publication of United Methodist Communications.
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