Adventist Church to launch distance-learning Web portal

Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s North American Division offered a preview of its upcoming Web portal for education and training resources, an initiative that is expected to bolster distance learning for ministers, lay leaders and students.

The initiative, named Adventist Learning Community, will enable Church entities and schools to share courses and certification resources for ministries best practices.

Division representatives previewed the system on the third day of the Global Adventist Internet Network conference. Other presenters today invited Church entities to embrace the Adventist online identity standards and consider multi-site congregations where appropriate.

GAiN is an annual gathering of Adventist technology, communication and ministry professionals who promote the use of emerging technologies to spread the gospel.

“Distance education for ministerial and educational purposes is a paradigm shift for how our Church does business,” said Adam Fenner, ALC director.

Fenner said five Adventist universities in North America currently offer the same course online, along with staff at each school supporting the programing. Combining resources, Fenner said, will enhance how the division delivers distance education.

“The quality of the courses would be much better, both in terms of content and media, and the cost to build and deliver the courses would be significantly less for the Church as a whole,” Fenner said.

Certifications are in the works for Family Ministries, Adult Ministries, Adventist Community Services, Youth Ministries and philanthropy, Fenner said.

The Adventist Learning Community will be available in March at

In another presentation, Dean Waterman, who serves as a pastor in the U.S. state of Virginia, promoted the model of a multi-site congregation. The concept is one that plants a campus tied to the primary church, jumpstarting the church-planting process. Often, the branch location shares worship services through live-streaming.

Waterman said the model has grown in recent years. Today there are 10,000 multi-site churches of various denominations in the United States, up from 3,000 a decade ago.

Advantages include the sharing of resources and personnel. It also serves as a faster way to plant a strong congregation in a new area—five months instead of five years, Waterman said. Also, a declining church can receive support by joining ministries with a thriving congregation.

“I believe the multi-site model is one of the most effective tools we could look at,” Waterman said.

Church leaders today also said the multi-site model can also offer greater unity and support for evangelism efforts in its various locations.

“By bonding together and sharing the pool of spiritual gifts, these congregations, it seems, would be more effective in reaching the community,” said Garrett Caldwell, the associate Communication department director for public relations at the Adventist Church world headquarters, who joined Waterman on a discussion panel.

Caldwell also joined the next presentation promoting on the denomination’s online visual identity standards. In late 2013, the denomination released a corporate Web framework encouraging Church entities and congregations to maintain similar branding.

The identity framework is available for netAdventist, WordPress, and other systems as HTML / CSS. It is available at

“The identity standard is an extension of our logo. It strengthens our brand,” said Williams Costa Jr., Communication director of the Adventist world church.

The framework’s designers said they created a simple layout that promotes the Church’s values in a way that appeals to people wanting to know more about Adventists. While the framework offers a worldwide identity, it was also designed for local customization.

Today’s final presentation, Jesse Johnson, president of netAserve, talked about StudyTracker, a Bible study system on the netAdventist platform.

StudyTracker works with cards that include a paper USB drive and near field communication, or NFC, to electronically deliver Bible studies. It also offers a smartphone app that handles campaigns and events by offering a scannable QR code to track attendance at meetings.

GAiN runs through Sunday, February 15. Presentations and live discussions are held three times each day to accommodate participants in time zones worldwide. To register and participate in this free event, visit, where presentations will also be posted a few weeks after the conference.

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