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.