REPORT: Discerning the Times
International Teachers' Seminar
Chicago, 7-11 November 2003
The International Teachers' Seminar, since 1995, has been a fellowship/teaching time for persons around the world who are involved in the adult teaching ministry. The ITS does not provide pat answers, but emphasizes principles, and has long been recognized as a "safe haven" for discussion and brainstorming. This year's seminar, held last weekend in Chicago, met a wide array of needs for the participants, who came from 47 congregations in 13 nations on 5 continents. It was fun meeting for our first time ever in the United States. About one third of the nearly 100 present were returnees from previous conferences, so there were a lot of new faces this year. A fellowship feast!
On the teaching side, Gordon Ferguson and I spoke to the emotional and theological significance of what we as a group of churches have been going through in recent times. Sam Laing delivered a series of lessons on family and character, addressing a different set of needs. Steve Staten prepared us for our visit to the Billy Graham Museum of Wheaton College, where we studied the development of the evangelical movement, fraught with lessons for our own times.
In addition, participants exchanged a blizzard of mementoes, short presentations, and papers on such subjects as Eldership, SARS and the Book of Job, How to Convert Mormons, Studies on Biblical Authority, The Parable Project -- even how to write a book and have it published! Websites maintained by ITS participants were also shared: www.BarnabasMinistry.Com, www.Bereans.cc, www.CSAPress.Org, www.DouglasJacoby.com, www.EvidenceforChristianity.com, www.GreatCommission.Com, www.Immerland.com, www.MMCC.UCD.Net, and www.TeachMeTheBible.org.
Besides the teaching and fellowship, we toured the Oriental Institute, whose Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Persian galleries are chock full of biblically relevant artifacts. (Every year, the ITS highlights biblical evidences -- at the Oriental Institute, the most powerful confirmation of a biblical text may have lain in the Taylor Prism, which describes Sennacherib's unsuccessful attempt to besiege Jerusalem in 701 BC.) As always, contention was hot for the "Teachers' Trophy." (This year's Hearts winner: Matt Pecquet of Omaha.) Another "high point" was getting the "big picture" of Chicago from the observation deck of the 110-storey tall Sears Tower.
Relationships and perspectives
New friendships were forged and old ties strengthened. Many expressed their appreciation (and relief) to find out how other churches are doing around the globe. For many of you reading this update, there was someone present from your congregation, who would be more than happy to share more about the form and function of the ITS than will be done in this short update. Here are a few of the comments (abbreviated) from ITS 9 participants:
* "All the perspectives were helpful