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FEATURE

Sunny California Welcomes MTIOPC

Patricia E. Clawson

The Ministerial Training Institute of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is basking in the sunshine after months of holding most of its classes online in the shadow of Covid. For the first time in 18 years, MTIOPC Intensive Training is heading back to southern California for three days of mandatory Intensive Training. As winter grips much of our nation, OPC ministers, licentiates, men under care of a presbytery, and ruling elders, as well as ministers from other denominations, may warm to the hospitality of Harvest OPC in San Marcos, California, from January 18 to 20, 2022.

Highlighted for this Winter 2021-2022 term, are three key MTIOPC classes that have been variously modified, including increasing interaction with the students, offering newly produced materials, or reformatting to better evaluate the impact of the students' learning. The classes also have staggered starting and ending times.

Pastoral Theology, with its simplified title, begins October 11, 2021. The Rev. Dr. A. Craig Troxel has redesigned his class to have increased interaction between himself and his students before Intensive Training. Troxel will now host video conference calls each month. This decreases the writing assignments and increases the discussion time before meeting in person for Intensive Training.

The Rev. John Shaw and the Rev. Dr. Eric Watkins look forward to teaching the Reformed Evangelism course in a new location with some new materials. Their class, which also begins on October 11, 2021, will culminate with Intensive Training in San Marcos, California. Shaw and Watkins will hone their students' gifts with hands-on training in evangelism on the beach in Oceanside using a newly published tract, "What is Truth?" Published by the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, this tract, written by Watkins, was designed to help our churches reach people with a post-modern, skeptical view of life and to lead them to Jesus Christ.

Two weeks after the other classes have started, the Homiletics class, taught by the Revs. Dale A. Van Dyke and Douglas B. Clawson, will begin on October 25, 2021. This course will conclude two weeks after Intensive Training ends, with an assignment due February 1, 2022. The revised format will give students the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned by revising their initial sermon after the completion of the in-person Intensive Training. Students also will deliver a 15-minute sermon condensed from their original 30-minute one. This is designed to help them capture and communicate their passage's main point when a brief sermon is needed. Van Dyke also is adding lectures on clarity and drama in preaching.

These classes are a large part of the reason more than 700 OPC pastors, licentiates, and men under care have taken a course during MTIOPC's first twenty-two years. Since 1999, the value of the classes is best shown by fully one-half of all the students taking at least two courses.

MTIOPC's goal is for each class to benefit the students, their ministry, and ultimately the congregations in which they serve.

Pastoral Theology: "The course covers the solid principles and best practices which build upon a solid Biblical-theological foundation," said Troxel. "The content and the readings of this course are selected to help us think more deeply and clearly about ourselves as pastors with a view towards conducting our ministries with greater faithfulness. One of the great benefits of this class is that we read and work slowly through The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges to create a useful resource that you can consult in the future."

Reformed Evangelism: "As the class was designed to benefit both church leaders and their congregations, the class is strikingly practical and is centered on an ordinary means of grace driven ministry," said Watkins. "It engages very practical topics like how to cultivate a culture of evangelism in a local church, and how to be a welcoming church. Both course teachers have spent years in the 'trenches' of church planting and pastoral ministry, and long to see God prosper the Great Commission through his ordained means—the local church."

Homiletics: "Dale and I are united in our commitment to the kind of sermon preparation and delivery that is described in the OPC Directory of Worship," said Clawson. "We love to proclaim Christ! We have greatly benefited from wonderful mentors, and we have read extensively about preaching. We have preached in many different places and in different situations. It is this love and experience that we desire to share with others."

While the starting dates of the courses vary, all the classes meet for mandatory Intensive Training from January 18-20, 2022, at Harvest OPC in San Marcos, California. Non-commuting students arrive on Monday, January 17, flying into San Diego International Airport (SAN).

Pastoral Theology and Reformed Evangelism classes begin October 11, 2021, with online reading and writing assignments. Classes will end at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 20. Return flights may be scheduled for after 1 p.m. Thursday

The Homiletics course begins Oct. 25. Their Intensive Training class concludes with fellowship after dinner on Wednesday, January 19. Students should schedule flights on Thursday, January 20, beginning at 9 a.m. Homiletics will continue with a post-Intensive Training assignment, due by February 1.

Registration deadline is October 6, 2021. Register soon since enrollment is limited. Please note that these classes are not anticipated to be available again for another two years.

"Students are encouraged to take an MTIOPC course as a pedagogical supplement to their training and the fellowship resulting from meeting together," said MTIOPC Director Danny E. Olinger. "The host church gives of themselves. We're excited to be back in the Presbytery of Southern California with some great classes to be held there."

Information on free housing, travel scholarships to offset costs, refundable registration fees, course descriptions, registration forms, and the MTIOPC catalog is available at the MTIOPC page.

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