UMC Cyber Campus Offers Education Anytime, Anywhere
By Vicki Brown
Training materials for annual conference Boards of Ordained Ministry, presentations from a churchwide sexual ethics summit, and a lecture by a well-known Civil Rights activist are among the materials now available through the UMC Cyber Campus.
The Cyber Campus, part of the new UMC Learn Portal (learn.umc.org), is a joint project of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and United Methodist Communications. The Cyber Campus can also be accessed at www.gbhem.org/umccybercampus.
"Providing accessible education to everyone regardless of economic status has historically been a mission of The United Methodist Church as a part of the church's social commitment," said the Rev. HiRho Park, GBHEM's director of Clergy Lifelong Learning in the Division of Ordained Ministry.
Park said the goal of the project is to provide quality church-related training materials as well as lectures about theological subjects, without regard to where the student is located, as long as there is Internet access.
"It is a twenty-first century response to John Wesley's vision, 'The world is my parish,' a response that new technology allows us to make. I believe the UMC Cyber Campus has great potential to expand with depth and divergent educational materials in the future; this vortex of theological knowledge based on our Wesleyan heritage will connect United Methodists and those who are spiritually inclined around the world."
Park said her hope is the campus will nurture grassroots leadership from a distance and empower local leaders.
Highlights of Webinars and videos already available through the Cyber Campus include:
- BOM Webinars include a session focusing on legislation related to issues that Boards of Ordained Ministry and district Committees on Ordained Ministry deal with, and the BOM Orientation.
- Sexual ethics materials provided by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the General Council on Finance and Administration include all presentations from the 2011 churchwide sexual ethics summit in Houston, Texas. The summit was sponsored by COSROW in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Sexual Ethics Task Force.
- The Rev. James Lawson delivering a candid lecture piecing together instructive narratives from his lifetime of nonviolent resistance activism in a Lowell Lecture at Boston University School of Theology. Lawson, a BU graduate, challenges society's pre-occupation with consumerism and compliance to an economic ethos that benefits a few at the expense of many. He calls for an organized resistance that would surpass all previous justice-seeking movements.
- A second Lowell Lecture features Bishop Melvin Talbert discussing "Human Rights – Dissenting Action and Civil Discourse, exploring the consequence of and response to non-violent civil/religious disobedience in organized religious institutions or communities in support of the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
- Boston University School of Theology's the Rev. Dr. Wesley J. Wildman provided an educational video sharing research conducted by the Spectrums Project, which investigates and interprets religious belief along the conservative-liberal spectrum in attempts to expand understanding-based empathy.
- Material can be posted in any language and the Rev. Sung Ho Lee's video "What is a church?" is in Korean. The video shows how we should embody and act with God's love and forgiving grace. "Whatever we do, we do to show God's love and forgiveness in practical ways," Lee says.