Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University has reached a major milestone. A recent visit from the Association of Theological Schools has recommended that the campus be authorized to offer in Oklahoma City all courses leading to the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts (Theological Studies), and Doctor of Ministry Degrees. The Board of Commissioners of ATS will receive and act on this report at its next meeting.
Saint Paul at OCU began operations in 2008, offering only the Master of Divinity degree. That degree carried a requirement for students to complete one-third of the courses on the Kansas City campus.
"The removal of the residency requirement and the addition of the other three degree programs is a major step in the development of Saint Paul at OCU," said Dean Elaine Robinson. "This has been our goal since the beginning, and we've worked steadily to create a campus that excels at preparing people for ministry in today's world. I'm delighted that the site visitors confirmed how well we're fulfilling our mission."
The success of Saint Paul in Oklahoma City has been a collaborative effort, strengthened by the support of the Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church and United Methodist-related Oklahoma City University. It is a unique model for theological education.
"It's a new day for Saint Paul at OCU. We are overjoyed at the news and personally, as a bishop, I am just so happy," said Oklahoma United Methodist Bishop Robert Hayes, Jr. "This gives us an opportunity to reach out to an even more diverse group of people. It has also given the United Methodist Church a strong setting in the South Central Jurisdiction. I can see Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University getting stronger and stronger each year. This is not only a blessing for the seminary and to the conference, but also to the kingdom itself."
This change relieves students of the difficulties associated with travel and being away from home, as well as opening new opportunities. "Eliminating the travel requirement lessens the financial and emotional hardship placed on students, who had the burden of leaving families and ministry settings behind with added travel, lodging, and food expenses," said Master of Divinity student Lora Stiles. "The additional degree programs allow more servants to answer the call to seminary, opening the door to persons seeking specialized ministries and continued theological education while remaining in their home region and established ministry settings."
Acting President Kevin LaGree noted, "Saint Paul's Oklahoma City campus is already a thriving and vibrant community. Now that courses for all degrees can be offered fully in Oklahoma City, the campus will continue to grow from strength to strength as it helps fulfill the seminary's mission to 'educate leaders to make disciples for Jesus Christ, renew the church, and transform the world.' "
"I'm excited about where we go from here," said Elaine Robinson. "We've only begun to imagine what we can be for the sake of vital churches and visionary leaders."