February 16, 2017 | Barquisimeto, Venezuela | Libna Stevens/ IAD
More than 4,000 Sabbath School teachers across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Venezuela received special training last month to become more effective in leading the weekly Bible lesson and engaging members to deepen their knowledge of the Scriptures.
Sabbath school teachers received six to 12 hours of intensive training on how to understand the lesson while listening to God, organizing the lesson with an outline format, objective and reviewing Jesus’ method of teaching, finding teaching methods and understanding learning principles.
The training was part of a strategic plan conceived in 2015 to equip Sabbath School teachers across the 20,000 congregations in the Inter-America Division (IAD), after a territory-wide survey revealed that teachers lacked proper training in leading Sabbath classes every week, said Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director for the church in Inter-America.
According to Pastor Telemaque many Sabbath school teachers lack the skills of communicating religious education to members in a way that they can experience transformation and a new life in Christ.
“This training across church districts and local fields in Venezuela set the tone for what we are aiming to accomplish in the rest of the territory with a basic training certification for our Sabbath school teachers,” said Telemaque. “Teachers must be able to understand how to teach the class to help members experience spiritual transformation in preparedness for the coming of Jesus.”
The teachers participated in hands-on training with group discussions and on-point exercises.
In East Venezuela, with more than 800 congregations, some 2,265 teachers took part in the basic certification training Jan. 13-15, reported Pastor Eliadis Fermín, Sabbath school director for the church in the East Venezuela Union. Fermín said that it was the first comprehensive training for Sabbath School teachers done for many years.
In West Venezuela, training took place across its eight local regions from Jan. 22-31. Fernando Toala, Sabbath school director for the church in the West Venezuela Union, said it was the first time such intensive training was held during weekdays and fully attended in auditoriums and churches. Some 1,780 were certified in basic Sabbath school training certification, reported Toala.
The certification followed the eight chapters of the book New Horizons in Sabbath School Teaching, by T. Leslie Ferdinand, and published by IADPA, (Inter-American Publishing Association).
Now that training for over 4,000 volunteer Sabbath school teachers in Venezuela has taken place, they will return to their district churches and share their knowledge with their fellow Sabbath school teachers.
A group of those trained in Venezuela, along with church leaders and Sabbath school directors, will continue advance level training through a six-month certification course offered by Herbert Fletcher University (HFU), Inter-America’s online teaching institution.
HFU’s advance level will provide more knowledge skill on the mechanics of online learning, process of discipleship and biblical interpretation, theory of adult, youth and children learning, and methodology of teaching, explained Telemaque.
“The IAD is sponsoring thousands of Sabbath school teachers into the advanced level with co-sponsorship from the unions, conferences, and the student himself,” said Telemaque. The program is also open to the general public who is willing to enroll in HFU for the certification for a cost of approximately US$80.00.
Hundreds of pastors and administrators across the church in the Caribbean have been enrolled in the HFU Sabbath school certification program since October of 2016. Students will need three hours minimum per week during the six month advanced Sabbath school certification online program.
Pastor Telemaque said that additional Sabbath school basic certifications are scheduled to take place this year in The Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Honduras, and other locations.
“Our main goal is to equip teachers with new knowledge, new skills of interpreting Scripture and teach it so members can leave transformed and ready for the coming of the Lord,” said Telemaque.
Yosainy de Colina contributed to this report.