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FEATURE

MTIOPC Helps Churches Minister to Those with Disabilities

Patricia E. Clawson

For the first time, the Ministerial Training Institute of the OPC (MTIOPC) is offering a course aimed at helping your congregation minister to those with disabilities. OPC deacons, Sunday school teachers, and those serving in your church's Christian education programs are invited to join ministers, licentiates, men under care, and elders in taking this course this summer. Stephen J. Tracey, pastor of Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine, will teach this course with the assistance of qualified educators.

Disability and the Church is one of three classes that the MTIOPC is offering this summer. OPC ministers, licentiates, men under care, and elders also are encouraged to take A Greek Refresher or the OPC History course to better understand the OPC's heritage.

Pastors will sharpen their grasp of Greek through A Greek Refresher, taught by David C. Noe, an OPC teacher of the Word and classics professor at Calvin University. Men under care of a presbytery also would benefit by cementing their language abilities before presenting their skills at presbytery. Focusing on Koiné Greek, Noe seeks to strengthen a minister's ability to soundly exegete and preach God’s Word.

Ministers and others who are new to the OPC would especially gain a firm understanding of the character and commitments of the OPC through OPC History. This course is taught by John R. Muether, an OPC ruling elder who serves as the OPC's historian as well as a professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Students will learn how the OPC fits into the history of Presbyterianism in America and view its relationship with American evangelicals and the OPC's sister denominations. This will give the students the ability to understand and articulate the identity of the OPC.

Tracey developed the new course, Disability and the Church, based on the wisdom gained after his Rockport congregation made an effort to learn how to better serve a covenant child who had disabilities. Tracey quotes statistics that one out of every eight people in our congregations has some form of disability, including those with hearing, visual, cognitive, or ambulatory needs. Yet some are unaware of those needs. Through a Reformed perspective, Tracey seeks to help congregations minister to families impacted with disabilities through learning to love one another in meaningful ways.

This MTIOPC course is unique because deacons and non-ordained OPC members who are involved in the Sunday school and/or Christian education ministries of their congregations are invited to join the class. In fact, ministers and ruling elders of those congregations are encouraged also to study the course. With the exception of licentiates and men under care, non-ordained members will need a letter of recommendation from his or her session to take the class.

The classes begin on June 1, 2021 with online reading, writing assignments, as well as videos for the Disability course. At the end of nine weeks, students ordinarily meet in-person for three days of mandatory Intensive Training. Due to restrictions from the Covid pandemic, one class plans to meet exclusively online.

The Disability and the Church and OPC History courses will hold their required in-person Intensive Training at Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Tracey's congregation will host the event on August 10–12.

A Greek Refresher class will meet online for an hour a week until the online Intensive Training is held for two hours a day on August 11 and 12.

MTIOPC provides food, lodging, and local transportation for all students. OPC elders, deacons, ministers from other denominations, and non-ordained members taking the Disability course are responsible for their long-distance travel costs to Maine.

All students must pay a $50 registration fee that is fully refundable upon successful completion of the course.

Tuition for the Disability and the Church class is free for all students. Tuition for the OPC History and Greek Refresher courses is free to OPC ministers, licentiates, and men under care. Tuition for these two courses is charged to OPC elders ($50) and officers from other denominations ($100).

OPC ministers, licentiates, and men under care qualify for a travel scholarship of up to $350 to help defray the cost of travel to Intensive Training. An additional $100 for travel expenses also is available if matched by your local session or presbytery.

MTIOPC provides free housing in the home of church members and in hotel double rooms. Students who request a single hotel room must pay an additional $200 single hotel room fee to offset the cost.

Registration deadline is May 28, 2021.

Applications, a letter from MTIOPC Director Danny Olinger, course descriptions, and a catalog are available on the MTIOPC page.

For more information, contact Pat Clawson, the MTIOPC coordinator. Call 215-896-6825 or e-mail: pat.clawson.opc@gmail.com.

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