Against the backdrop of the extraordinary season of hardships we all have endured since the coronavirus impinged on all our lives, our plans, and our relationships, we on the ICOC Teachers Service Team stand in awe of the good which God has graciously empowered us and many others to accomplish in 2020.
For approximately two years Andy Fleming (Kiev, Ukraine) and Steve Staten (Chapel Hill, NC) were co-chairing the Teachers Team with Steve Kinnard (New York). Effective in December 2020, Robert Carrillo (Los Angeles) replaced Andy Fleming and Steve Staten as co-chair with Steve Kinnard. Click here for the full list of Teachers Service Team members.
The Bible and Gender
In the fall of 2018, the Teachers Service Team assembled a task force to research biblical passages that speak to the subject of men and women in the Bible. The results of this research yielded a group of papers entitled The Bible and Gender which was completed early in 2020. Originally, this project was envisioned to be one paper. However, as the project evolved, it became evident that the task force needed to write eight papers covering nine passages of Scripture. Also, it became clear that the discussion was not about the woman’s role in marriage and the church, but it was a discussion about women and men in the image of God, marriage, ministry, culture, and biblical interpretation. These articles reflect the process of “community teaching” or “community theology.” In many ways, this methodology was the North Star of the task force, driving their process of research and writing. The final version of the paper was distributed to the Regional Chairs of our international church families in February and the published book is now available here. The Teachers Task Force on The Bible and Gender prays that this book will continue to facilitate discussions concerning this important topic across churches around the globe.
Introducing the Teleios Journal and the Teleios Society
Early in 2019, Gregg Marutzky, David Pocta, Steve Kinnard and others had promoted the idea of a peer-reviewed journal to address the intersection of academic theological work and discipleship. In October 2019, Alex Hunter, cofounder of the Disciples Center for Education (DCE), himself a Master of Divinity graduate of Harding University, proposed the idea of a journal to accompany the DCE vision for furthering theological education. A week later, at the fall meeting of the ICOC teachers in San Diego, the proposition was formally discussed and enthusiastically accepted. In January 2020, the DCE officially commissioned the Teleios journal project with Steve Kinnard at the helm as general editor. From April to July 2020, Steve Kinnard and the advisory board assembled an exceptional Editorial Board for Teleios with scholars from various tribes of the Stone-Campbell Movement, many from the relationships that had been cemented at the March Teachers Forum. World-renowned Crossroad Publishing agreed to publish the bi-annual journal. The first issue will arrive in inboxes and mailboxes around the world in February 2021.
International Teaching Ministry Event
For the first time in many years, just days ahead of the first COVID-19 lockdown in the United States, the TST held an international Teaching Ministry Conference entitled, “Conversations: Exploring the Teachers Ministry.” Remarkable was the impressive lineup of distinguished scholars and theologians from several denominations teaching alongside speakers from our own international fellowship. Approximately 160 people attended from 20 countries, including eight newly appointed Congregational Teachers from the continent of Africa. Other internationally recognized teachers were in attendance, among them, Arturo Elizarraras (Mexico), Rolan Monje (Philippines), Courtney Bailey (Jamaica), Douglas Jacoby (now residing in Scotland).
The focus of the event was an exploration of the narrative of the International Churches of Christ, past, present and future as well as discussing the practicals of how to grow individually as Christian teachers and how to create a healthy, functioning teaching ministry. The conference took place on March 6-7, 2020 at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. See more: schedule of events and list of speakers and reflections on the conference.
This year’s International Teaching Conference, Let Justice Roll, will be held on March 4-6, 2021.
Developing Teaching Ministries on Every Continent: Africa
Thanks to tremendous personal investment from several on the Teachers Service Team, the Teaching Ministry in Africa has made great strides, becoming a model for development of regional teaching ministries across our fellowship in the future. In 2020 the recognized teachers from the five regions across Africa formed their own Africa Teachers Group, chaired by Emmanuel Emeh (Lagos, Nigeria). Click here for the announcement for the first Africa Teachers Orientation Workshop, which was held in August 2020. It is our prayer that more and more of these groups will be formed in years to come.
Race Relations Task Force
A special task force of the TST was formed in the spring of 2020 to focus on improving relations between races in our churches, with a goal of developing teaching and learning tools for prospective use by leaders and church members. (See the charter at the end of this article for a list of the members of this subcommittee and more detailed information about its inspiration, aspirations and activities.) In January 2021 this task force introduced an online learning opportunity, scheduled for February 6th and 13th, 2021, for disciples on the topic of navigating race in the church. Interested participants can begin registering now at: https://milestonechurches.com/racial-justice
Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology
For the RMSMT, 2020 was a year of great growth in programs, faculty/staff, and greater outreach to the Majority World. Click here for the full update.
Renovating the Teaching Ministry website
The Teaching Ministry website for the ICOC, www.teachicoc.org, is being updated and moving to a new host, aiming for a launch date early in 2021. Coordinated by Steve Staten and Tammy Fleming, a subcommittee of the Teachers Service Team, joined by volunteers from from several different churches, are helping facilitate the transition.
ICOC Race Relations Task Force Charter – July 2020
Inspiration: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Mothers weep for their children and refusing to be comforted, for their children because they are no more” – Jeremiah 31:15.
The current unrest around North America, along with its reverberations around the world, deserves our attention. As endorsed by the Teachers Service Team (TST), this task force aims to include race relations and reconciliation as a part of a spiritual transformation process within our churches. The issues are consequential for us all in knowing Christ, understanding the body of Christ, and lordship.
It is time we endeavor where many do not want to go and offer solutions, guidance and support in a way that represents Jesus. May God show us what is his to make right and what is ours to act on as it relates to the tragedy and brokenness of race relations in our world, and may we say yes, always.
Purpose and objective: With the eventual aim of enhancing the culture of ICOC concerning race relations and reconciliation, we will assist the TST in developing teaching and learning tools for future use by leaders and church members.
Responsibilities/scope: For the next nine months, this task force is responsible for developing, coordinate, and communicate strategies necessary to implement projects, including but not limited to:
- Customize and update this charter to clarify and confirm our responsibilities and assignments.
- Provide TST with some guiding documents for comment, exploration, and further dissemination concerning teaching on race relations in our church context.
- Develop some best practices for healthy conversations in churches.
- Help provide the leadership with tools/studies to address race, racism, and its stem issues of injustice.
- Determine our own set of success metrics, deliverables and/timelines or end-results with a collective consensus.
- Keep the TST informed, involved, and in support of the task force’s work.
- Assist the SCUAD (Diversity Committee) of projects they are considering.
Meeting effectiveness: The Task Force will meet at least every three weeks, depending upon their work scope. Ensure meetings are conducted purposefully and effectively through the use of:
- Action Plans/Deliverables/Deadlines
- Zoom Call Meetings
Members: Suzette Lewis (Chair), Andrew Lewis, Steve Kinnard, Steve Staten, James Becknell, Joey Harris, Robert Carrillo
“Our only hope is to march ourselves to the throne of God and in loud lament cry out the pain that lives in our souls.” – Ann Weems