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FEATURE

Leapfrog Your Ministry this Spring with MTIOPC

Patricia E. Clawson

The Spring 2022 courses of the Ministerial Training Institute of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church are geared to expand their students' understanding of the OPC standards and how to apply them in worship, as well as how best to help congregations minister the gospel to all their people, especially those with disabilities.

The classes, which begin on February 1, 2022, are:

  • Reformed Worship, taught by the Rev. Dr. Glen J. Clary
  • Westminster Standards, taught by the Rev. Dr. Chad B. Van Dixhoorn
  • Disability and the Church, taught by the Rev. Stephen J. Tracey

MTIOPC courses typically target OPC pastors, licentiates, men under care of a presbytery, and elders in an effort to supply what may have been lacking in their seminary training. The class on Disability and the Church also is open to OPC deacons, Sunday school teachers, and Christian Education leaders who are interested in making those with disabilities an essential part of their congregation.

Last year when Benjamin Snodgrass heard that MTIOPC was offering a course on Disability and the Church, he felt it was an answer to prayer. The congregation he pastors--Falls Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin—had focused on caring for caregivers. He wondered what was next. Snodgrass found last summer’s inaugural class on Disability and the Church "extremely valuable." The course is ideally suited for pastors to set the vision for their congregation, for church planters who seek to distinguish their congregations from others, for deacons who serve in the forefront of their church's ministry to persons with disabilities, and to train Sunday school teachers and Christian education leaders in their roles.

"This course will leapfrog your attendees ten years ahead in your thinking and implementing of vocabulary, actions, and patterns for helping to meet the needs of families with a disability," said Snodgrass. "This is a vital aspect to ministry in our neighborhoods where disabilities abound."

Instructor Stephen Tracey, pastor of Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine, reminded his class last summer that "it is not just the person with a disability who needs love and ministry from our churches, but also his siblings and parents," Snodgrass said.

Two long-standing MTIOPC courses also are highlighted this year. In teaching the Westminster Standards course, Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn will bring his expertise as director of the Craig Center for the Study of the Westminster Standards at Westminster Theological Seminary. He also is author of Confessing the Faith: A Reader's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith. A detailed analysis of the Westminster Confession of Faith will give the students a deeper understanding of the faith of the Reformation. It will also help men who are becoming licensed or under care of their OPC presbytery to subscribe to these standards with integrity.

Dr. Glen Clary, pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Pflugerville, Texas, serves as instructor on Reformed Worship. This year, Clary plans to put extensive emphasis on the biblical theology of worship as well as look at the historical roots of Presbyterian worship. Each element of worship, the Christian Sabbath itself, and even the setting of worship will be discussed.

Clary seeks to help students lead their worship services based on the Bible and the OPC's subordinate standards. "The main benefit of the course is understanding how the development of worship throughout the history of special revelation shapes the practice of Reformed worship in our day," Clary said.

Each class includes about ten weeks of online reading and writing assignments before three days of mandatory Intensive Training. This year the Intensive Training sessions will be held at two different locations and on two different dates.

  • Intensive Training for Reformed Worship and Westminster Standards will meet on May 3-5 in Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Non-commuting students will travel on Monday, May 2 and return home on Thursday, May 5.
  • Intensive Training for Disability and the Church will be held on May 17-19 at Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Students should travel on Monday, May 16 and return home on Thursday, May 19.

Students pay a $50 registration fee which is fully refundable upon successful completion of these pass-fail courses. Tuition, food, lodging, and local transportation are free. Students are responsible for their own long-distance travel costs, although 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.

Register by the January 28, 2022, deadline.

Applications and course descriptions are available on the MTIOPC site.

For more information, contact Pat Clawson, the MTIOPC coordinator, at pat.clawson.opc@gmail.com.

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