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In early 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdown shut down churches and schools, along with many other Assemblies of God district youth directors, Eli D. Vega was faced with a challenge: how to move from forward during in-person activities – retreats, camps, youth convention and the School of Ministry – at the heart of ministry could not take place.
Beyond that, as older pastors retired to the South Pacific District, those of the next generation failed to keep pace in becoming accredited to fill the void. And while GA Superintendent Doug Clay and other leaders advocate for accreditation of 40,000 GA ministers, especially women, the district had few female pastors. Candidates needed more opportunities to receive an education that prepares them for ministry.
But suddenly the new coronavirus has impacted the ministry like nothing before. For Vega’s former colleague Rudy Estrada, with a background in accreditation and online program creation, the financial crisis led to his dismissal from Fuller Theological Seminary. This meant Estrada, 39, had an open schedule. He partnered with Vega, 33, and the GA’s national office to create from scratch an online district school certification and licensing program that meets the needs of today’s wired generation. ‘hui, transforming ministerial education in the district and beyond. The interface, which will use the Global University curriculum, is accessible via mobile phone app and computer.
“While everyone was wondering what was going to happen, we were working hard to create online courses,” says Estrada. “We saw this as our window to build this platform that didn’t exist in our neighborhood. “
The District Ministry School’s online program will enable 250 young leaders in the South Pacific District to take Bible, theology and ministry classes on their way to accreditation.
“The future of our neighborhood depends on this platform,” says Vega. “It will guide the culture in this neighborhood.”
In California, known for its long commutes and long work weeks, obstacles abounded. While some students feeling pastoral calls attend Bible College, many do not have the time or energy to enroll in a formal academic program in person. When Vega became the District Youth Director in 2017, the South Pacific District had only a small number of licensed ministers, only one of whom was a female pastor under the age of 40. Online courses for AG ministry students had not yet reached the district, so accreditation was required. in person.
To meet the need for personal interaction, the platform includes Facebook-like social media accessible only to those registered in the program.
“We wanted to create a new platform for our pastors to come together and network,” says Vega.
It took place at the end of August. Vega and Estrada believe the new program will be a game-changer.
“We knew that after COVID started, we couldn’t go back to event-driven ministries,” says Estrada, who is now an assistant professor of the New Testament at Vanguard University. “We had to do something different. We also knew that since everyone goes online, everyone gets a taste of online ministry.
Vega points out that the program will leverage senior leadership by recording the best pastors’ sermons and lectures for inclusion in e-learning modules.
“We can keep records of their best advice, a wealth of information,” says Vega.