Teaching Ministry of the ICOC

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Spring 2019 Teachers Service Team Report

by Dr. G. Steve Kinnard, Tammy Fleming

Fourteen members* of the International Church of Christ Teachers Service Team met in San Antonio on March 31 and April 1, 2019, for the second Teachers Service Team Meeting of 2019. The first took place in Orange County, California, in conjunction with the innovative Hackathon conference (www.icochackathon.org), organized by members of the Teachers Service Team, February 21 – 24, 2019. 

Starting our days together with worship and prayer.In San Antonio, Dave Pocta hosted us at Oblate School of Theology, where he is currently pursuing a PHD in Contemporary Christian Spirituality. Dave opened our time together with a devotional based on the story of the Samaritan woman from John 4. We sang some old hymns, written in the 1800s. It was a very inspiring morning together.  On the second morning of meetings, Ron Rolheiser (President of the Oblate School of Theology)  led an amazing devotional on some principles of pedagogy.  


Addressing questions related to women’s roles in churches today. Together we composed a letter which informs the fellowship of the fact that the Teachers Service Team is diligently working on a paper on the woman’s role in ministry. That letter was completed and was posted on the ICOC Teachers’ website, www.teachicoc.org on April 2, on Disciples Today, and on various social media platforms. We hope that disciples will continue to share and forward this letter as they see fit. 

Valdur Koha chairs the subcommittee of teachers and others who are actively working on this paper, researching the difficult passages relating to the public role of women in the bible. The group meets monthly online and is working together to produce a scholarly paper exegeting scriptures relevant to discussions about the women’s role in the church today. Steady progress is being made, despite the fact that none of the contributors are available to devote themselves on a full-time basis to the project. The target date for completion is 2020. 

     It was proposed that the Women’s Ministry Task Force (formerly known as the Women’s Service Team) could work under the supervision of the Teachers Service Team to create an online survey of our 32 regional families of churches, to learn what specific questions are being asked concerning the public role of women in our churches around the world. Steve Staten agreed to advise and help to design a survey which would ensure a properly representative sampling with appropriate questions. This proposal was given approval in the assembly of the Regional Family Chairs. The Women’s Ministry Task Force will proceed with this fact-finding effort. 

Strategizing to Host and Attend Various Conferences and Meetings.We agreed that the following events would be priorities for us in an annual calendar, understanding that Service Team members would pick and choose what they are able to attend. 

         (a) The ICOC Spring Meeting of our 32 Regional Church Family Chairs and Service Team members.  

         (b) The ICOC Autumn Leadership Meeting of the delegates from each Regional Family of Churches. We agreed that the Teachers Service Team would meet for two days this autumn immediately before the delegates meeting and would plan to bring younger and Next Generation teachers to that Service Team meeting. 

         (c)  A New Annual Teachers Meeting/Conference for those interested in the Teaching Ministry. We would hope that everyone on the Service Team could attend this event: two days of meetings as a Teachers Service Team, followed by a Teaching Ministry conference. Possibly August 13-17, 2019, in San Antonio. 

         (d) Hackathon – type conferences — We would like to see these begin to take place in our regional families of churches. Steve Staten and Shane Engle will be working on this idea. 

         (e) ICOC Scholars Conference. To be held a day or two before the Annual Meetings hosted by the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion.  The Annual Meetings this year are scheduled for November 23- 26, 2019 in San Diego.



Strengthening our churches for the future.We as a group of teachers in the ICOC are deeply concerned with the question of how we, as a movement, plan to “feed” our people long term (Hebrews 5:12). We discussed the need for further development in theological education for our ministers, in order to grow both theologically and spiritually.  We want to ensure that in ten to twenty years’ time, we are doing an excellent job of educating our people. 

         We discussed the importance of Ministry Training Academies (MTAs), which exist in several regional families of churches. We see a need to raise the standards of our MTAs. We agree that in addition to continuing to improve the MTA programs, we want to continue to encourage our ministers and other members of our churches to complete graduate study programs.

         Most of our churches employ internships to educate young ministers. We want to do everything we can to develop academic as well as practical training for ministers in all our 32 regions of churches around the world. To that end, we created a subcommittee Task Force to consider Ministry Education, comprised of Gregg Marutzky (Chair), Jeremy Lefler, Robert Carrillo, Steve Kinnard, and Ed Anton. 

         We discussed several ways in which we could amplify the Teachers’ voice in our fellowship and improve the ways in which we currently contribute to the strengthening of our churches. We discussed live streaming of teachers’ lessons and events; videos; creating an online webinar and an online theological journal.

         Steve Staten presented a paper that speaks to ensuring that appropriate spiritual and other necessary qualifications for leadership positions are met in the ICOC. The group gave Steve feedback on this paper. He is making a few changes, then he will forward the paper to the teachers for a last review before publication and distribution. 

         We discussed ways in which we could develop Teachers Service Teams in each of the 32 regional families of churches around the world. We agreed that Steve Kinnard would compile information from the regional church families, namely, where we have recognized teachers and where we do not. 

         We believe it’s very important to accurately document our movement’s history over the past forty years. Many of us agreed to write a portion of our history, so that we can begin to collect eyewitness accounts. These could be presented at the various meetings and conferences listed above, and published online.                                         

In Summary.These are the “Big Bucket” Items that we believe deserve our consistent focus. Please pray for us to make consistent progress pleasing to God, as we work together to accomplish these goals: 

         a. Regional Teacher Service Teams.

         b. Credentialing a program for ministry education.

         c. Producing position papers. An online journal. Recording our history. 

         d. Work on our hermeneutic. 

         e. Provide congregational teaching.

         f. Provide resources for ministry training.


* Present on the 31st: Steve Kinnard, Steve Staten, James Becknell, Tammy Fleming, Andy Fleming, Kay McKean, Joey Harris, Diane Brown, Steve Brown, Dave Pocta


Present on the 1st: Steve Kinnard, Steve Staten, James Becknell, Kay McKean, Joey Harris, Diane Brown, Steve Brown, Dave Pocta, Ed Anton, Deb Anton, Robert C., Valdur Koha. 




Year-End Good News from ICOC Teachers

L-R: Arturo Elizarraras presents newly appointed congregational teachers, Jose Carlos Alaniz, Oscar & Carolina Figueroa

L-R: Arturo Elizarraras presents newly appointed congregational teachers, Jose Carlos Alaniz, Oscar & Carolina Figueroa

MEXICO CITY: the Latin American School of Missions was initiated in February of 2018 with 10 young interns being paid and trained full-time.

On April 29, 2018 an historical congregational event was held. Over 7,500 were in attendance to witness the appointment of the first elders ever in the Mexico City Church, as well as the recognition of three new teachers for the congregation — the first since the appointment of Arturo Elizarraras in 2003: Jose Carlos Alaniz, and a married couple, Oscar and Carolina Figueroa, were all three appointed congregational teachers (photo at right), Maestros de la Biblia! What a glorious day of celebration of the power of God and the power of becoming one!

Arturo Elizarraras introduces the ten new students in the Latin American School of Missions

Arturo Elizarraras introduces the ten new students in the Latin American School of Missions


LAGOS, NIGERIA — On Sunday, August 19, 2018, the first brothers appointed to the role of Teacher on the continent of Africa by our movement of churches were recognized in the church in Lagos. These three men are Fred George, Emmanuel Emeh, and Gilbert Kimeng.


For the last several years, New Jersey-based Teacher Steve Kinnard has been an active part of their training and mentoring. “It’s been a thrill to work with them,” says Kinnard. “I want to personally thank Dr. Douglas Jacoby for his work in West Africa. Douglas initiated the first Ministry Training Program which helped equip Fred, Emmanuel, and Gilbert to rise up and become teachers. Also, thanks to Joey Harris and other teachers who taught in the training program. I also want to thank the Rocky Mountain School Of Ministry and Theology for their work in training ministry leaders in our churches. All three of these teachers have taken courses at the RMSMT, and two of them are pursing degrees there. The RMSMT specializes in helping students in developing countries work toward advanced degrees in theology. Also, a big thanks to the Beam Fund for sponsoring a program that allowed me to focus on training and mentoring potential teachers in West Africa, French West Africa, and East Africa. The appointment/recognition of Fred, Emmanuel, and Gilbert is the direct result of their investment in the teaching ministry. Thanks to the Board of Directors of the Beam Fund for your partnership in this endeavor. Thanks too, to Chris and Rolayo Ogbonnaya and to the elders in Lagos for your warm invitation to me to help train and mentor teachers in West Africa. Your partnership has meant much to me over the years. My time spent in Africa training teachers has been one of the most satisfying tasks of my life. I appreciate your allowing me to use my gifts to help the disciples in Africa.” 

Prayer over newly-appointed teachers, Lagos, August 19, 2018

Prayer over newly-appointed teachers, Lagos, August 19, 2018


TORONTO, CANADA — We are experiencing exciting times in the congregation in Toronto, Canada, as God continues to raise up men and women to serve his church. On November 11, the whole church gathered together to witness the appointment of Kevin Robbins and Darrel Shaw as elders. They are recognized as shepherds, men of faith and maturity who have been called by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the role of overseers. They join Ed Bahula in this noble task.

Also, at this historic service, Dr. Scott Warlow was appointed a teacher. Scott is known for his deep love of the scriptures and desire to use his gifts to serve the church. We request your prayers as we build by faith and the help of the Holy Spirit, a teaching ministry that will provide opportunities for deep Bible teaching, practical application and enriched faith for the maturing of the saints and ultimately, for the glory of God!

Read the full article by Ed Bahula on Disciples Today

Dr. Scott Warlow, appointed congregational Teacher in Toronto on November 11, 2018

Dr. Scott Warlow, appointed congregational Teacher in Toronto on November 11, 2018


Watch this space for more year end updates from the Teachers Service Team

ICOC Teachers' Summer Update

"On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." 2 Corinthians 1:11 NIV

In the Northern Hemisphere,  this weekend marks the end of the summer season. Most kids are back at school on Monday, many colleges and universities are starting back up, and most all of those lucky enough to have had time to surf, loaf, bake on a beach, maybe chill at a cottage somewhere, are getting ready for September and autumn. What have the ICOC Teachers been up to this summer? Here's a smattering of a few of our ICOC Teachers' recent endeavors:  


After 34 years teaching Chemistry and Physics, Dr. John Oakes (San Diego, California, USA) officially retired in June 2018. So what does retirement look like for a disciple of Jesus Christ who is also a recognized Biblical author and Teacher? John kicked off his retirement with a self-funded three- week missionary teaching trip to Russia, Japan, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. Read about what he learned and what he taught on this trip here, at www.evidenceforchristianity.org. 

John Oakes (3rd from left)  about to depart from Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, after several days of teaching and fellowship with Central Asian disciples.  L-R: Sasha Tsoi of Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Lina Morozova, women's minister from Moscow, Russia, with her daughter (4th from left) and husband, Evangelist Nikolai Morozov of Moscow on the far right; John Oakes; Dima Mungalov of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; Vladimir Abdullayev of Almaty, Kazakhstan; Andy Fleming of Kiev, Ukraine.

John Oakes (3rd from left)  about to depart from Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, after several days of teaching and fellowship with Central Asian disciples. L-R: Sasha Tsoi of Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Lina Morozova, women's minister from Moscow, Russia, with her daughter (4th from left) and husband, Evangelist Nikolai Morozov of Moscow on the far right; John Oakes; Dima Mungalov of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; Vladimir Abdullayev of Almaty, Kazakhstan; Andy Fleming of Kiev, Ukraine.

John Oakes will be teaching a series of lessons on the Book of Luke at the Inspire Singles Conference in Phoenix Aug 31-Sept 1.  Notes, power point and audio will be posted at evidenceforchristianity.org  In addition, he will be teaching a four part series on Daniel in September and October, as well as a six-part series on the Book of Acts. Be looking for all materials at the web site, or if you live in the San Diego area contact him for information so you can attend. john.oakes@gcccd.edu  Also, John is teaching a class on the Book of Hebrews with Robert Carrillo for the Los Angeles School of Ministry and Missions September 13-14.  If you are interested in this class, go to https://www.laschoolofministry.com  Lastly, John and Jan will be traveling to Israel, Amman Jordan (10/30-11/3), Beirut Lebanon (11/3-11/6) and Cairo, Egypt (11/6-11/12) for a missionary teaching trip October 22-Nov 12. If you can attend any of these meetings or want more information, contact John about these meetings.


August 2018 found Dr. G. Steve Kinnard (New Jersey, USA) teaching a dynamic group of about 25 ministry interns in Lagos, Nigeria,  on the topic of church history. 


Douglas Jacoby also taught in Lagos in August,  a series of MTA / AIM lessons on Biblical Interpretation to 60 West African leaders, "powerful Christian men and women who want to make a difference in the world," says Jacoby. He then traveled to several locations in Congo, and taught on Acts Chapter Two, Biblical Interpretation, and Prosperity Theology (or the "health and wealth" gospel). After a few weeks at home,  he plans to return for another teaching tour in  South Africa, Botswana, and Malawi in September.  See his notes from the month of August, below: 

Disciples of Christ say hello, Victoria Island, Nigeria

Disciples of Christ say hello, Victoria Island, Nigeria

With preacher Moses & Honorine, Kinshasa, D.R. Congo

With preacher Moses & Honorine, Kinshasa, D.R. Congo

  • Co-teaching with Gilbert Kimeng.
  • Learning that Gilbert, along with Nigerians Emmanuel Emeh (my former AIM student), and Fred George (one of my M.A. students at Lincoln Christian. University), will be officially recognized as teachers this coming Sunday
  • This parallels the good news in Latin America a few months back, when colleague Arturo Elizarrarás appointed three teachers in Mexico.
  • Spending time with Geoffroy Gankoue-Dzon, church leader in Congo. (Brazzaville) and presidential advisor (his full-time job). 
  • Not having to worry about Ebola, as the previous outbreak had officially died out, and the latest outbreak is still in the far east of the country.
  • Talking theology with Moses.
  • Spending fellowship time with cheerful and grateful Congolese -- after all they have been through (civil war, pillaging, rape, murder, malnutrition, corruption, and grinding poverty)."

To read more from Douglas Jacoby, you can subscribe to his newsletter at www.douglasjacoby.com. 

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Gordon Ferguson (Dallas, Texas, USA), beloved author of 15 books, continues a prolific writing ministry at the wizened age of 75. Keep up with his new blog on racial issues at www.blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com

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Dr. Glenn Giles at the Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology (Denver, Colorado, USA)  reports that, "perhaps the highlight of this summer is the extent and quality of growth God has given us at RMSMT. We now have 74 RMSMT students worldwide. We have ICOC students from more and more nations applying to take courses. These students reside in the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Mongolia, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Haiti, Bangladesh, Trinidad, UK, Northern Ireland, Canada, Columbia, Mexico, and the United States.  We now offer 4 Master of Arts Degrees: MA in Biblical Studies, MA in Biblical Studies with Languages (we are beginning a year of Biblical Hebrew this semester, Greek next year), MA in Christian Ministry, and MA in Christian Counseling (this degree just officially began this fall). It was so heartening to hear of three of our students just being appointed Teachers in Lagos this last week. In addition, we are planning to have our first graduation ceremonies this coming May, 2019!"


Andy and Tammy Fleming (Kiev, Ukraine),  have been in Kyrgyzstan this summer, for a serendipitous overlap with John Oakes, teaching at the largest gathering of disciples from the five churches in Central Asia in fifteen years -- 65 adults plus 43 teens and preteens came together for the first ever Central Asian Youth Corps. Some of these churches -- all in mostly Muslim nations --  are very small and isolated; only one of the five has a legal right to assemble. 

Andy has recently published two significant papers, "Let Each One Be Careful How He Builds," an investigation into the circumstances that led up to the crisis of 2003 in the ICOC, focusing mostly on church-building strategies and leadership organization; and "Giving Thought to One's Ways," an introduction to practical theology and a survey of sociological literature regarding new religious movements and the effect of charismatic leadership.

Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan: Andy and Tammy Fleming with a group of parents from the five Central Asian churches. 

Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan: Andy and Tammy Fleming with a group of parents from the five Central Asian churches. 


Dave Pocta (San Antonio, Texas, USA)  has just finished a teaching tour, speaking at the NorthWest Churches' Conference and teaching nine days for the church in South Korea.


Michael Burns (Roseville, Minnesota, USA),  following on the heels of his timely and much-appreciated work, "Crossing the Line: Culture, Race and Kingdom,"  has published an introductory article for a new book soon to be published, "The Power of Story to Divide or Unite Us."

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