Vancouver Church Offers Online Christian Education Using Seminary Now
Lord’s Grace Church in Vancouver, BC, has always placed an emphasis on Christian education. Every Sunday the church offers services in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese, as well as children’s ministry, youth ministry, and adult Sunday school classes. Avery Choi, Associate Pastor for Youth, Cantonese Young Adult, and Family Ministry, is one of the pastors responsible for developing the content of adult classes.
Through the Facebook pages of several Northern Seminary professors, Pastor Choi learned about Seminary Now, the educational video streaming platform launched in 2020 by Northern Seminary and eight partner organizations. Choi introduced the platform to the rest of the pastoral team at Lord’s Grace Church. In September the leadership agreed to endorse an annual Seminary Now subscription for the church.
Since then, Pastor Choi has been developing Sunday School curriculum around the content on Seminary Now. Even during the current pandemic, church members have been able to learn together online through viewing and discussing the lectures on Seminary Now. About thirty adults have participated in the classes so far.
“The range and depth of Seminary Now courses has greatly enriched the possibilities in terms of both curriculum and content,” Pastor Choi says. Church members began with the class Roadmap to Reconciliation, based on the book of the same name by Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil. Using a series of teaching videos and a companion workbook, Dr. Salter McNeil guides participants through her “roadmap” model for pursuing racial reconciliation and justice, drawing on her extensive consulting experience with churches, colleges, and organizations.
Through the Roadmap to Reconciliation course, Choi says, “our church members are given a framework to engage in the work of reconciliation with our neighborhood and with people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.”
Being multicultural is part of the identity of Lord’s Grace. The church is made up of three congregations grouped by language: Cantonese, which includes immigrants from Hong Kong; Mandarin, with immigrants from mainland China; and English, with first-generation children of the Cantonese congregation and their peers. They are located in the neighborhood of Kitsilano, close to the city of Vancouver. “Interestingly,” says Choi, “it is one of the neighborhoods with the highest percentages of Caucasians and very non-religious.”
After beginning the Seminary Now course, several church members have gathered to further brainstorm how the church might engage the neighborhood once the pandemic is over. Another member has taken the initiative to learn more about the situation of indigenous peoples and share her findings with fellow class members.
“Although the pandemic has prevented the church from gathering together in person, it has forced us to take up the task of developing online alternatives to community life,” says Pastor Choi. “In our experience, over the past year church members have overcome the technical barriers to online gatherings, and are now more eager than before the pandemic to join a Sunday School class from the comfort of their homes. Seminary Now makes solid Christian education available for our church that is ready to embrace the reality and benefits of online learning.”
In less than a year since its launch, Seminary Now has created nearly 30 video courses taught by leading professors and thought leaders, including Scot McKnight, David Fitch, Ruth Haley Barton, Greg Boyd, and many more. Courses cover a variety of topics in biblical studies, ministry, theology, leadership, and justice and reconciliation, and the subscription base continues to grow. In addition to individual plans, Seminary Now offers church subscriptions, which allow all of a church’s staff and lay leaders to access the platform, as well as provide content for small group and Sunday School viewing. For more information, visit SeminaryNow.com and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for church pricing.
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