or Taller teologico.
TALLER TEOLÓGICO (THEOLOGICAL WORKSHOP)
Aim of the project:
To establish a new school devoted to lay training working together with the local congregations or districts.
In order to train their members, most local churches turn to all sorts of courses and materials, most coming from a North-American fundamentalist context. This is weakening our own character and also our own witness in our society. Therefore, a strong programme in lay training, which in addition is really close to the local congregation, should certainly make a big difference for our church and for many other churches, as we are determined to compete with the aforementioned materials and courses.
Details of the project
The project is established and supervised by SEUT, the seminary related to the Iglesia Evangélica Española (IEE). The IEE has long being asking for a school focused on lay training. SEUT first began to think about the project in 2003, right after moving to its new site in El Escorial (Madrid).
The new school, named TALLER TEOLÓGICO (meaning literally „Theological Workshop“), is a fully new project, linked to SEUT but administratively autonomous. This means new methodology, new resources, new staff and also new sites. These have strategically being selected: one in Barcelona, covering the area of Catalonia; a second one in Valencia, covering the area of Levant, and a third one in Palma de Mallorca, covering the Balearic Islands. The new sites are justified by an important aim of the new school: nearness to the local congregations. We also hope to establish new sites in Spain in the future, and we also would like achieve agreements with other churches in the European Latin context and also Latin America.
The reason to start with all branches in the Eastern part of Spain, is that this area gathers about 70% of the protestant population in Spain. The Western part of Spain can be served from El Escorial (Madrid) until we can establish one or two more sites in that part of the country.
Despite becoming autonomous, the new school will remain linked to SEUT. This will follow up the project, supplying the resources needed.
Being laity the focus of the school, the main beneficiaries will be the IEE members, but also many members from other churches to which the programme will also be offered. The lack of good lay programmes runs through many Spanish churches. Also, we have advanced conversations with the Seminario Evangélico de Teología (Matanzas – Cuba) to allow the use of our materials and courses. From there, we will be very open and active towards achieving agreements within and without Spain. Informal conversations have also been held with representatives from Portugal (both, Presbyterians and Methodists, now engaged in a uniting process), who showed interest in such a project. IEE and SEUT are prepared to grant translation and adaptation rights to fraternal churches.
The need to develop a lay programme arises also from a very pressing new
situation in Spain: that of deep secularism. Even though there is much
debate on what this word means, we are convinced that most churches in Spain
have failed to cope with the new culture of secularism in this country. This
means, in our understanding, that laity needs –of course, no more than
pastors, theologians, etc.!– to learn anew what does it mean to be a Christian
in this new Spain. Particularly, there is a deep need to rethink what mission,
diakonia, and evangelism is to be carried out in this society. At the same time,
we are also convinced that mission, diakonia and evangelism are fundamental in
the Christian vocation, and cannot be neglected.
The programme is based on three pillars:
i. a programme thought out in the local church under agreement;
ii. the production of materials for the programme, published in digital (on-line) and printed format;
iii. workshops on topics of interest to local churches.
The school will provide the programme, the materials ―with a focus on developing the on-line access to courses, library and other available resources, etc.― and also staff that will train and supervise the local teachers and that will lead the workshops.
Given that the project is based on decentralization, we need to
incorporate new personnel for the new sites who specialize in lay training and
that take care of a wide geographical area, plus some administrative staff.
Eight persons will be running the project:
Ignacio Simal (half time), Osmundo Ponce (full time SEUT professor appointed to the Taller Teológico), David Casado (volunteer), Joana Ortega (half time), Germán López (volunteer), Gerson Amat (half time), Marita Sörgel (full time), Armando Guzmán (2/3ds). The staff at SEUT will also be involved at the petition of Taller Teológico, particularly in the production of materials. There are currently three professors involved in the writing of materials.
Of these persons, Ignacio Simal and Joana Ortega will be the leaders of the site in Barcelona, Gerson Amat (teacher) of the site in Valencia, Marita Sörgel will be responsible for the administration of the school in Madrid and also for the scanning of the library books, and Armando Guzmán, computing engineer, responsible for the on-line courses. Osmundo Ponce, David Casado and Ignacio Simal are the leading body of the project and will coordinate the team and all the sites. We are very much convinced that the names we have chosen are some of the best in our country, both in terms of training and of vocation for theological education at the lay level. In our understanding, success for the school relies in good measure on the staff personal quality.
Concerning the budget attached, I would like to say that it is very important to have an initial fund that allows the project to take off without being freighted by financial debts. A theological and educational project is hardly self-sustainable without grants or endowments. However, if we raise the initial investment needed, we can guarantee the sustainability of the school thanks to the support from the church at local and national levels, and also thanks to the fees from students and to SEUT, which takes part of the burden producing the materials and supplying other functioning needs.
If full budget cannot be raised, this will mean a slow down of the project, but we are anyway very determined to go ahead with it. As a matter of fact, we have already invested some resources in the production of materials and the web page.
(adapted from the original by GVvH)