By: Paul J. Morrison
“I have an idea I want to run by you to see if you are interested.” It has been more than a year since I received that email from another pastor in Cleveland. We got coffee the next week. I was interested.
For the weeks and months since that conversation, I have worked and dreamed with two other like-minded pastors on a single question: How could we bring theological education and training to Northeast Ohio? Each of us recognized the deficiencies of online education and the lack of theologically solid and affordable options in our context for the local church to be adequately equipped.
The first time the three of us sat down together to ensure we were on the same page, every conviction, idea, and concept was echoed and amened. Outcomes, values, mission– each facet began to take shape. We found wise counsel, partners, and support. The Lord began to build, and now, a little more than a year later, we get to share what He is doing.
No, I am not leaving Grantwood. In fact, I see this as an extension of my calling and giftings as well as a practical way to establish us in this city. I am excited to share that, in addition to my role as Pastor, I now serve as the Director of Ohio Theological Institute.
Ohio Theological Institute exists to cultivate humble orthodoxy through theological education in life together for Christ, His Church, and His mission in the ecclesial community of Northeast Ohio. We are forming a place for theological education in partnership with and for the mission of the local church, that is local, affordable, and flexible. We believe that theological education is best when it takes place in a community of students and scholars working towards spiritual development and academic competence, and believe that theological inquiry is rooted in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture with Christ as its subject for the good of God’s people and His glory.
This means ministers and laypersons in Northeast Ohio are no longer forced to forego training, leave to find it, or accept deficient models that strip students of adequate community, resources, consistency, and contextual application. We believe we are offering a superior product. We are also offering it at a fraction of the cost.
OTI is in the final stages of announcing a partnership with a major ATS-accredited theological seminary, to provide accredited degree options in Northeast Ohio. OTI’s certificate classes will be accepted as advanced standing into this program, and OTI members will be authorized to concurrently study online through this seminary, and receive local support and engagement with the Northeast Ohio community.
Local churches, just like Grantwood, will serve as central classrooms for course lectures and seminars based on where students are serving. Leaders across Northeast Ohio, serving in urban, suburban, and rural churches are invited to pursue independent study in academic programs while meeting in localized ministry cohorts. This model allows for OTI students to contextualize their education within their unique communities and churches.
OTI will launch its first semester this fall, and there is still much to do before then. Our website is live and we are actively pursuing church partners and potential students. If you are in Northeast Ohio and are interested in OTI at any level or just want more information, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is much work to be done and I covet your prayers in this season. The Lord is doing an incredible work, and I am thrilled He is letting me watch.