Methodist E-Academy to Welcome First Full Class in 2011
The Methodist E-Academy, a program using technology to provide Methodist studies to clergy and seminary students in
Begun as a pilot project in 2008, the E-Academy is a cooperative effort between the theological education programs and seminaries in
Bishop Patrick Streiff, chair of the governing board of the Methodist E-Academy and episcopal leader of the Central and Southern Europe Episcopal Area, said the Methodist Theological Schools in
“Future Methodist clergy from all over
David Field, coordinator of the E-Academy, said classes are offered in German and English in Methodist history, theology, and ecclesiology. Classes include an online component, selected texts, small tutorial groups that meet regularly in different countries, and a block seminar each semester in which all the students come together for a long weekend and a final paper.
“Most of the students are either already in pastoral ministry or in the process of completing their seminary studies,” Field said.
The E-Academy has agreements with the
The Rev. Rena Yocom, GBHEM’s assistant general secretary for Clergy Formation and Theological Education, said the E-Academy is an excellent model for cooperatively providing the theological education needed to form Christian leaders in the Wesleyan tradition.
“The Methodist E-Academy is an example of what can be accomplished with a combination of creativity and technology, collaboration and perceived need, mixed with a little Wesleyan discipline and determination. It is a viable tool for global education today,” Yocom said.
Interacting With Other Students
Filip Jandovsky, a pastor from the
“Because my week schedule is quite busy with my church business, e-learning helped me to better organize and manage my study time,” Jandovsky said. “It is a really good option for those who are working full time.”
The Rev. Margarita Todorova, a pastor in
“The best part of this course was the interaction with students from the other European countries. It has been an enriching experience,” she said.
Other students noted that the quality of the material provided a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Methodist tradition, while the group work and seminar allowed for the development of relationships with students from other countries, social contexts, and language groups.
Online Studies Require Adaptation
Michael Nausner, one of the instructors, found he had to adjust his conversational style of teaching to work with e-mailing texts or posting online.
“I feel the student/teacher interaction was good because we scheduled a one-hour chat every week. The chat room gave us the possibility to interact directly about the contents of the course,” said Nausner, officer for International Relations, Reutlingen School of Theology in
Lay Preacher and Local Pastor Training Explored
Field said the E-Academy is now exploring lay preacher and local pastor training, since many European churches are increasingly dependent upon lay preachers and local pastors to meet the ministry needs of their churches. The E-Academy hosted a conference in October 2010 to explore cooperation across
“We agreed the model for the Methodist Studies program would not work and that training programs for lay preachers and local pastors should be carried out in the local languages,” Field said. He added that the E-Academy will seek to promote cooperation, hopefully helping to establish a network of people involved in training lay preachers and local pastors.
The governing board – made up of two representatives from each United Methodist episcopal area in Europe and from the Methodist Church of Great Britain and a representative from the autonomous Methodist Churches in
“The board has launched an initiative to cover the fees of students preparing for ordained ministry in Methodist churches in
Methodist-related theological schools in
Through the end of 2010, contributions totaling $480,000 supported the project. In addition to GBHEM’s start-up funds, funding came from student fees, donations from the Fund for
To learn more about the Methodist E-Academy, visit www.methodist-e-academy.org.
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.