Education has always been a part of the “Presbyterian DNA,” beginning with John Calvin, who helped bring public education to Geneva.
And—for those denominations that follow in Calvin’s footsteps and stand in the Reformed tradition—education walks hand in hand with lifelong learning.
Lifelong learning was—and still is—at the heart of the Opening Doors to Discipleship website, which was launched in 2007 as a partnership project of five Reformed denominations in North America, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The website’s mission is “to support the faith journey of people seeking to follow Jesus today as leaders and learners in Christian community.”
At its launch, one church partner, the Reformed Church in America (RCA), introduced the website to its membership by stating, “good leaders are always searching for new opportunities to learn and grow in their faith and practice.”
In addition to the PC(USA) and the RCA, the Opening Doors to Discipleship website is also sponsored by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Moravian Church in North America, and the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
These five denominations, known as the Presbyterian Reformed Educational Partners (PREP), create and maintain the Opening Doors to Discipleship website to help people in their congregations grow in the Christian faith through teacher training, Bible study, Reformed theology and spiritual practice. Candace Hill, coordinator for educational ministries in Congregational Ministries Publishing, serves as the PC(USA)’s PREP representative.
There is no cost for members of the five sponsoring denominations to use the website to access the online courses. Registered website subscribers also receive a quarterly e-newsletter with articles designed to help teachers, leaders and church members be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Due to copyright issues and production costs, however, songs, videos and quarterly e-news through the site are not translated into Spanish and Korean.
“Recognizing that English is a second language for many of our church leaders, we are excited to be able to offer ‘Course A: Teaching Skills’ in Spanish and Korean,” says Hill. “The members of PREP have long honored the spirit of the 220th General Assembly (2012), which mandated that essential business be translated into Spanish and Korean, by offering mirror sites translated into those languages. While the Spanish and Korean versions of the website have been translated with accuracy, it remains a challenge to accurately reflect their unique cultural contexts and idioms. We have made progress toward this goal but acknowledge that there is more work to be done.”
“Course A: Teaching Skills,” designed for new and veteran teachers, includes twelve sessions that explore a variety of topics: the call to teach, faith and human development, learning styles, choosing materials and more. All sessions include clearly defined goals, meditation and Bible study to strengthen the disciple's own journey. Three learning modules with interactive exercises enhance the learning process. A “Teachers' Talk” video feature allows learners to hear teachers answer questions about their own experiences.
At present, only “Course A: Teaching Skills” is available in all three languages. Translation of “Course D: Discipleship—the Way of Jesus” is expected to be available later this year.
To access the Opening Doors to Discipleship website and its free, online courses, after opening the website, visitors are asked to make their language selection, and, if they are new registrants, prompted to click Sign Up to complete the registration process. Those who require assistance with the denominational login number may email their denominational representative, providing their name and the names of their congregation and denomination.