In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, OCMC was faced with the reality that sending traditional Orthodox Mission Teams would not be possible for the foreseeable future. Knowing how mission teams touch people’s lives, OCMC began developing Virtual Teams, utilizing technology to connect team members, from the safety of their own homes, with those in the mission field. OCMC recently conducted such a team for clergy and lay members in Ghana from Oct. 29-31.
At the end of the training, which was attended by fourteen clergy, youth leaders, and teachers, His Eminence Metropolitan Petros thanked the OCMC Team members and Ghana youth leaders for their “willingness to train others – being apostles.”
Fr. Sampson, one of the participants, says that he attended the event “to be equipped and prepared to teach our children and entire Orthodox community.” Another participant wants to “grow the Church and pass along knowledge of the Faith.” And another priest, Fr. Daniel, notes, “We cannot do it all as priests. We need assistance from parishioners; this will benefit all.”
When OCMC approached His Eminence and the clergy in Ghana with the idea to offer a virtual training program, the Ghanaian Church identified the need to strengthen religious education in the parishes and immediately began planning a "Training of Trainers” event to provide training and empower clergy, religious educators, and youth leaders. The virtual event encompassed six time zones and was comprised of past OCMC Teams participants from IL, CA, NY, NJ, and Bahrain.
This concept of “Training the Trainers” aimed to prepare trainers who can then teach others to become religious educators. The main goal was to help participants present their lessons effectively, lead activities that teach the Faith, and find resources so that, in the years to come, they can continue to prepare their own religious education material. Team members offered sessions on Being a Good Teacher; Teaching Children, Youth, and Adults; and Creating Outlines and Lesson Plans. Many were excited to see their Ghanaian friends from previous trips. The participants in Ghana also broke into working groups in between sessions.
Fr. Joseph Kwame Labi, the event coordinator, acknowledges this retreat was “not to be all or end all, but we have to work to achieve a comprehensive religious education program for the Church in Ghana.” Their goals include creating culturally relevant religious education manuals and lesson plans for each age group within the next six months. The participants were grateful and noted that the retreat was a “boost to morale.”
The Holy Metropolis of Accra includes in its jurisdiction the countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Burkina Faso.