New Church Life NCL May/June 2018 - Page 49

     arose to change the format. At that point there were two students in South Africa, one in Nigeria and one in Norway, all of whom are in similar time zones. Using Skype as a medium of instruction, it became possible for all the students to meet online with a teacher based in Bryn Athyn, with students and teachers able to see and hear each other. This creates a virtual classroom. Using this method, the regular program of 12 courses can be delivered in a far more satisfactory manner. Classes are held at a regular time each week; early afternoon in Bryn Athyn equates to early evening in Africa and Europe, a time when students are home from work, have had their supper and are ready to attend class. The program is much the same as it is in other distance schools: regular Theological School classes adapted for the circumstances. However, it is only possible to offer one course at a time because students can only attend part time, so the overall program takes between three and four years to complete. Under this system of training, two men, one in Norway and one in South Africa, have completed and been ordained. A third is a candidate nearing the end of his education, while the others are at different points. In addition to General Church students, there is also a student studying for the ministry of the Lord’s New Church who lives in the Netherlands. Finally, there have been situations, which may arise again, of people who do not fit any of these programs. For several years ministers travelled to Kenya to give classes as there was no one there who could do this. Over a four-year period, three men were prepared, ordained and now serve congregations in Kenya. The General Church is truly an international church, with much of its growth happening in far-flung parts of the world. Figuring out ways of educating a ministry is challenging and exciting. The established schools teaching in their local languages means that we do not have to rely on someone’s ability to speak English in order to serve. Technology makes it possible to pull together people who are continents apart, and provide the opportunity to read, study and discuss together as if they were in the same room. Even so, new challenges arise from time to time. There have been students in time zones or with limited internet accessibility where the only way to The General Church is truly an international church, with much of its growth happening in far-flung parts of the world. Figuring out ways of educating a ministry is challenging and exciting. 225