The initiative to found IRTC was taken at a meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Oct. 17, 2000. By March 2001, our first courses were being taught informally, using a freely available Internet teaching environment. On June 16, 2004 we were incorporated in the state of Virginia, USA as a non-profit educational institution. Our most recent investments have gone towards further developing our IT infrastructure, seeking to improve our students' experience. If you would like to learn more about our current and future needs, please visit our Support Us page.
IRTC's Objectives – Portuguese is spoken by over 250 million people in several countries. Many of these do not have access to Reformed teaching, much less to a Reformed higher education. IRTC hopes to meet these needs in the following ways:
- provide Reformed higher education courses in Portuguese, reaching globally as far and wide as the language itself;
- contribute to the training of pastors and theologians;
- develop church leaders in theology and other areas of higher learning.
Distance Education – In order to attain these objectives, the College uses distance education technologies to connect staff and students from all over the world in a virtual classroom setting. This allows teachers and students to live, teach and study anywhere; the students can remain in their home churches and contribute to their ministry. They also have the flexibility to choose the best days and times for their studies and to choose a pace best suited to their personal work or family situation. Our world-class teaching environment leverages digital audio, video and textual resources as well as traditional tools such as books and magazines, to provide a well-rounded learning experience.
The fact that we are Internet-based means it is possible to bring together a complete faculty that is Reformed and academically qualified. It is also a blessing for students, since many who look for this type of education live in places that are isolated and far from any Reformed institution for higher education. Most of these students would have had to resort to correspondence education in the past — with Internet distance education, they can complete their coursework in a fraction of the time and communicate nearly instantly with their teachers and fellow classmates.
Local Study Centers – The IRTC encourages the development of local study centers, consisting of a group of students and a mentor, set up and administered by local churches or groups of Christians. These promote the students' practical training and integration in their churches, as well as learning through discipleship. They also permit churches to maintain close supervision over the training of their students.
Structure – The IRTC is a non-profit corporation, located in Bristol, Virginia, USA. The Board of Directors of 6 elders and ministers of the Word has the final responsibility for the doctrinal supervision of the College. This Board has a balanced ecclesiastical and international representation in order to preserve fidelity to the Reformed confessions and to address the needs of distinct and different cultures. The Academic Board consists of the President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vice President for Student Affairs and the coordinators of the six departments of the School. It is responsible for teaching and academic policies, and carries out the day-to-day operation of the College.
Personnel – The members of the Board of Directors are:
- Pieter K. Meijer (Chairman), Reformed Church in the Netherlands (Liberated)
- Ralph Boersema (IRTC President), Canadian Reformed Church
- Charles Melo de Oliveira, Westchester Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Mount Vernon, NY
- Julius M. VanSpronsen, Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church in Edmonton, AB, Canada
- Túlio César Costa Leite, elder-teacher in Reformed Presbyterian Church in Brazil
The department coordinators of the College are:
- Apologetics: Mr. Ralph F. Boersma
- Bible and Exegesis: Mr. José João de Paula
- Christian Education: Mr. Filipe Fontes
- History: Mr. Marcone Bezerra Carvalho
- Humanities and General Studies: Mr. Filipe Fontes
- Professional and Practical: Mr. Sérgio Paulo de Lima
- Systematic Theology: Mr. Ralph F. Boersma
International – The great needs among Portuguese speaking people can best be met by an international school. The IRTC has a contact address in Belem, Brazil, but the corporation is located in Bristol, VA, USA. As a religious institution of higher education, the College is exempt from certification by the Virginia State Council of Higher Education. It offers a variety of degree programs and looks forward to its diplomas being recognized by institutions of theological training of similar character. The programs of study prepare the students to continue their studies in many other Christian schools of higher learning.
Men and Women of God – It is the objective of the College to raise up men and women of God. The teaching of the Word of God cannot just be an intellectual exercise. The growth in true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in obedience to God are much more important than the acquisition of intellectual information. A wise man has knowledge and is obedient and faithful to God in the use of this knowledge. The teaching of the IRTC aims to inculcate in the students deep respect and adoration for God. The students will strive for maximum growth in intellectual and experiential knowledge in order to produce fruit of the Spirit, to live a truly holy life of obedience to God, and to pass on this biblical wisdom to their brothers and sisters in the Church. For this the College counts on the students' churches to supervise and disciple the students, so that they may put into practice the obedient teaching that the IRTC provides.