Online professional development course explores the biblical Tabernacle

A personal interest in the biblical tabernacle has resulted in an unusual online course through the FPU Center for Professional Development (CPD).

“About five years ago I fell in love with study of the Tabernacle. It’s been a brewing thing in my heart for some time,” said Marvin Harms. Harms joined forces with Elmer Martens to create a series of four lectures of 30-40 minutes each that is available for 2 units of credit through the FPU Center for Professional Development. The content is available for free, or 2 units of credit are available for a fee.

Martens and Harms each brought strengths to the project. Martens, a professor at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary) for more than 35 years and president for nine years, is an Old Testament Scholar. Harms taught in the Sanger Unified School system for 32 years and has created and led many online courses at FPU (he currently teaches 12). Martens has a doctorate from Claremont Graduate University and master’s and bachelor’s from MBBS, the University of Manitoba and the University of Saskatchewan. Harms graduated from California State University, Fresno, and earned a teaching credential.

This course is designed for Christian school educators, Sunday school teachers and anyone interested in the Old Testament Tabernacle. The presentations are in a lecture format and resources are available so students can apply what they learn in their own classrooms. “It follows the pattern of data, interpretation, application. What is going on and what do you make of it,” Martens said.

The Old Testament Tabernacle is important to the Bible because it was an icon for the children of Israel, a place they brought sacrifices and met God. The structure is mentioned in hundreds of verses in 50 chapters in both the Old Testament and New Testament.

The Tabernacle course is one example of how FPU uses Moodle to present educational material to a broad public that might not be able to come to the university. “Moodle is where we house all of our teacher development courses,” said Matt Gehrett, who as director of the Office of Continuing Education oversees the CPD. More than 100 courses are available on the FPU Moodle site, in fields such as athletics, health, mathematics, science, technology, special education, literature and foreign languages. A course management system, Moodle offers features such as forums, databases and wikis that help students learn in different ways.

The Tabernacle course is FPU’s first Bible-specific online professional development course. Gehrett is working with faculty and others to develop more. “We’re always looking for people who have interest in these areas and are qualified to create more courses,” he said.

Find all FPU Moodle courses at Click Log in as a Guest for a list. The Tabernacle course is under “biblical studies” or at