Saint Paul Oklahoma Fellows Program Provides Enriching Learning Experience

Michael Carpenter had much on his mind after graduating with his civil engineering degree from Oklahoma State University. How did he envision his future? Recently married, his wife had applied and been accepted to medical school. The young couple also hoped to start a family. If he followed his heart to go to seminary and become a pastor, could they afford it?

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, the average Master of Divinity graduate accrued more than $40,000 in educational debt and five percent accumulated more than $80,000 in debt. Meanwhile the U.S. department of labor states that the median wage for a pastor is $43,800 — not a salary that lends itself to paying off high-end loans.

Carpenter was especially drawn to Saint Paul at Oklahoma City University after hearing an announcement about a newly established Oklahoma Fellows program. Recipients would receive tuition, a church placement, and ministry mentor. Carpenter was elated to later receive the news that he would begin seminary in 2015 as a Fellow. He was also welcomed into the fold at Oklahoma City based, United Methodist Church of the Servant.

Michael began his internship by simply observing ministry and later took on more leadership roles. “I view all of the clergy here as mentors,” said Carpenter. “They are all experts in their fields and open to sharing. It’s a wonderful church.” Michael turns to one pastor for academic questions, another for pastoral care advice and another for advice when working on Sunday sermons.

Now into his third year as a seminary Fellow, Michael has grown through his multiple experiences around the church. He has enjoyed planning worship for the early-morning chapel service and preaching in both traditional and modern worship settings. He currently leads the young adult ministry and focuses on the church’s hospitality and follow-up ministry with guests.“One of the things I appreciate is that this 1500 member church remembers that they have grown through personal relationships, one member at a time.”

Carpenter has learned so much from the congregation and his church leadership mentors — all while keeping up with his seminary studies. “Saint Paul has been incredible in readying me for real-life ministry. In every class the professors discuss how we can use what we learned not just for our own edification, but also for building God’s kingdom on earth through our ministries.”

Randy Shrauner, Church of the Servant Executive Pastor and clergy mentor sees the collaborative program as a win-win situation. Together the church and seminary are raising up young, high-caliber clergy for the state.

“I have no doubt that Michael’s acumen in the classroom will make the short jump to the local parish intact and energized. We are grateful for his ministry among us and look forward to a life invested as clergy colleagues.”

Saint Paul at OCU student Michael Carpenter and his wife Rachel were pleased to welcome a baby boy to their family in May.




Saint Paul Receives 2018 Leadership Transformation Grant

Saint Paul School of Theology has been awarded a 2018 Leadership Transformation Grant from the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) in Wichita, Kansas. The grant provides tuition coverage so that Saint Paul can send 20 people to KLC programs such as You Lead Now (2 ½ days in length) and Lead for Change (a two part, seven day program).

Saint Paul will send faculty and staff members to experience a KLC program as well as offer opportunities for pastors and congregation members to attend.

Dr. Jim Brandt who developed and submitted the grant proposal along with Saint Paul Alumna Melissa Pearce said, “I’m very pleased Saint Paul has received this grant and excited for the opportunity for folk to experience the KLC approach to leadership. The grant provides a great way for Saint Paul to partner with some pastors and congregations and support them in leadership development and in providing leadership for the church.”

Kansas Leadership Center offers experiential learning about leadership, grounded in the work of Ron Heifetz and Marty Linski of Harvard.  KLC’s programs help participants gain ability in diagnosing situations and acting with purpose to contribute to forward movement. Participants also have the opportunity to work with a coach and reflect on what they are learning.

Dr. Yatta Young Advocates for E-Reader Program in Liberia

Saint Paul DMin Alumna Advocates for E-Reader Training in Liberia

Saint Paul DMin Alumna, Dr. Yatta Young, believes that expanding access to theological resources in remote locations enhances teaching and learning. She was the first person to to launch the E-Reader Project under the African Association of United Methodist Theological Institutions in 2013. Dr. Young is the dean of the Graduate School of Theology at United Methodist University (UMU) that began classes August 2015. 

This summer (2017) the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Discipleship Ministries, and the African Association of United Methodist Theological Institutions  (AAUMTI) led an e-reader training in the area. Students and faculty from the Graduate School of Theology, United Methodist University (UMU) in Monrovia, Liberia attended.

Dr. Yatta Young shared her experience with the project at the training. She highlighted the importance of books and partners who have helped provide theological texts to Liberia. Through the E-Reader Project, students now have access to an electronic library with hundreds of publications. Many of the textbooks and books are written by Africans.

“We have a good champion and advocate for this program in Dr. Yatta Young. She inspired the whole group with her praise for reading and education,” said Robin Pippin, director of Contextual Resource Development and Distribution, Discipleship Resources International (DRI).

To learn more about the E-Reader Project, visit

Oklahoma City University and Saint Paul School of Theology Sign 3+3 MOU for Accelerated Ministry Degree

Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry and Rev. Neil Blair, President of Saint Paul School of Theology, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a 3+3 theological studies undergraduate-graduate program. The agreement is a significant partnership between the United Methodist-based university and United Methodist seminary.

Under this arrangement, Oklahoma City University students would condense the four-year course of study for the new seminary track of the Bachelor of Arts in religion into three years, followed by the completion of the three-year Master of Divinity degree at Saint Paul School of Theology. The seminary established a branch campus at OCU in 2008, giving students the opportunity to complete their Master of Divinity studies on the OCU campus. This accelerated degree agreement allows students to prepare for ordination and entry into the ministry in six years instead of the usual seven, while earning both B.A. and M.Div. degrees.

“We have enjoyed helping Saint Paul establish a fine program here in Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry. “This agreement expands our relationship and establishes a new pathway for fulfilling the academic requirements for ordained ministry.” The accelerated degree reduces the barriers of time and money. “This program provides a cost savings, which should open the door for students to receive a first-class ministerial education as they answer the call,” said President Neil Blair.

The distinctive new seminary track of the Bachelor of Arts in religion at Oklahoma City University prepares students for full-time ministry in an environment that encourages the interaction of faith and learning. Studies in the major field, along with courses in English, history, philosophy, the social sciences, and various electives will give students an excellent background for entrance into a theological seminary or for various service opportunities in the church and society. Learn more at

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) at Saint Paul School of Theology prepares graduates for ministry in the church, chaplaincy, not-for-profit work and other forms of religious leadership. The M.Div. is required for ordination by many denominations and is among the requirements in the primary track toward becoming ordained as elder in the United Methodist Church. This graduate degree develops students as theologians who are able to understand the biblical, historical, and doctrinal traditions and the ecclesial practices of the Christian heritage. They learn to lead and minister in diverse contexts, to integrate practical skills with academic learning, and to grow in maturity of faith. More information at

Neil Blair to Serve as Saint Paul School of Theology President

The Board of Trustees has named Rev. Neil Blair as President of Saint Paul School of Theology. Blair is a 1980 Master of Divinity graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology. He will begin his leadership on July 1, 2016.

“We are fortunate that Neil Blair has agreed to provide leadership to Saint Paul during this time. Neil has a long and fruitful history with Saint Paul. He brings with him knowledge and love of the seminary as well as a strong understanding of the church and theological education’s special role in the life and vitality of the church,” said Saint Paul Board Chair Twila Glenn.

Neil Blair returns to the seminary with a combination of passion for Wesleyan evangelism, knowledge of The United Methodist Church, and a variety of development leadership experiences. Blair most recently served as the Executive Director for Institutional Advancement for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Previously, he was the President of The Foundation for Evangelism of the UMC in Lake Junaluska, N.C. and Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. Additionally, he served 19 years as Vice President for Development at Saint Paul School of Theology.

Blair is an ordained elder in the Dakotas Annual Conference and served eight years in a local church in Missouri. He has two grown sons.

Faculty Write New Book about Transforming Communities to Missional Congregations

Transforming CommunitySaint Paul Professor of Wesleyan Studies, Dr. Hal Knight and Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr. have come together to coauthor the book Transforming Community, The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations.

The book draws on the strengths of their previous book, Transforming Evangelism. The book is written for a wide audience and can be used for study by individuals or groups in the church. It’s published by Discipleship Resources as a print or e-book.

The central motive of authentic evangelism is: Having received a message that’s made all the difference in our lives, we desire to share that message with others in the hope it will transform their lives as well. Wesley models an evangelism that reaches out and welcomes, invites and nurtures. The book will better equip today’s congregations to be more transformational in their community.

To get a copy, please visit the Upper Room.

Evangelical Society


2016 All Alum Reunion and Senior Class Gift

Guest Post: Kelly Willoughby, Class of ’85

Alum ReunionThe first ever All-Alum Reunion on May 29th was a wonderful day, filled with memories, singing, laughter, tears and an always-present Holy Spirit.

The reunion started with a bright, sunny day as people began to arrive and kept coming and coming! Eventually, 60 alums and current students came together to see what God is doing through the Guadalupe Center and to offer our support.

Saint Paul Seniors gave the Guadalupe Center Charter School, Academia de Ninos, a check for $1,000 for their library as their senior gift.

We worked in the library, in the yard, in the Holter Center and had fun playing with the kids at recess and reading to them in their classrooms. The Guadalupe Center’s charter school has more than 300 students, K-3rd grade, with plans to expand next year. It was awesome to hear the Holter Center buzzing with noise and laughter as we lunched with the children. So much life!

Alum ReunionTouring the buildings, we are were laughing and sharing, “I used to live here.” “We had study group here.”  “Remember when…”  At each building someone offered a prayer, remembering how God had worked in this place and praying blessings on all of the ministry yet to come.

A Holy time was when we entered the Chapel. You could feel the God’s presence. We sang together, prayed together and knew that God was there. It seemed we all felt hearts “strangely warmed.”

Many more gathered that evening for a social time. Tex Sample shared a few words about the future, but I kept hearing him tell the “Bulldog” story in my memory! Acting President Nancy Howell and several faculty spoke as well. Mostly, we gathered in small groups, sharing stories.

At the end of the day, it was good to remember that “wherever three or more are gathered in his name…” there is God and that is Holy Ground.

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Lessons in Koinonia from South Korea

Post author: David Sisney, Vice President for Advancement

Korea TripRecently, I returned from a 10 day student recruiting and fundraising trip to South Korea. It was an amazing and life changing experience for many reasons.

We were led by Dr. Young Ho Chun, Saint Paul School of Theology Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Director of Asian Studies. Our trip was aimed at fostering the long-established relationships between Saint Paul and the many churches and universities that support our mission.

Another specific goal was to recruit pastors for the fourth Saint Paul Korean Doctor of Ministry cohort led by Dr. Chun. 

In the picture, from left to right, are Dr. Young Ho Chun, Bishop Sundo Kim, David Sisney, and Blake Sisney.

Koinonia is defined as Christian fellowship or communion, with God or, more commonly, with fellow Christians.

Along the way, we met the most gracious and hospitable people who truly understand how Koinonia should be shared amongst our fellow human beings. My 29 year old son Blake accompanied us on the journey. He pointed out several times that, “we could sure learn a lot from our hosts as it relates to how to treat people.”

We experienced true fellowship time and time again as we met new faces in each of the places we toured and visited. From how they greeted and hosted us, to the exchange of gifts, to inclusion in conversation (even though the language barrier sometimes made this difficult,) and to the final goodbye at each place; we were truly made to feel like royalty.

Probably the greatest expression of this came from Bishop Sundo Kim. Bishop Kim is retired now, but you would never know it. As the founder of the Kwanglim Church he continues to preach weekly and is very active in supporting his son Rev. Dr. Kim, Chung Suk who is the Senior Pastor of the Kwanglim Church – the largest Methodist church in the world.

The congregation is made up of approximately 120,000 members worldwide. Easter Sunday was a glorious experience and I got goosebumps as we sang traditional Wesley hymns. As Blake and I sang in English, all those around us sang in Korean. It was a surreal experience, but so moving as the realization that we were all experiencing the same amazing Easter worship experience with the full orchestra and 200+ voice choir – but doing so in our own languages.

The recruitment of Doctor of Ministry (DMin) students for the Korean DMin track was a success. We were also successful in fundraising. The Kwanglim Church donated a substantial gift toward establishing a named scholarship for Korean students attending Saint Paul School of Theology. Tradition holds that not only do you have to appear in person to receive the gift, but that it also is paid in cash. This made for an interesting experience at the airport getting through customs!

Upon returning to the United States, I have an even deeper respect for the Korean people and their culture. My son and I reflected with one another asking new questions as it pertains to our world view. The answers to those questions are what we will continue to explore as we work to offer our new sense of Koinonia to all those that we meet.

Saint Paul Classes Will Be Offered Online Beginning Fall 2016!

Online Classes Begin Fall 2016Saint Paul School of Theology is bringing web based seminary education to our students! We will be offering online classes beginning this fall. Students can take eight courses in their first two years, completely online. There are also several hybrid courses available. Saint Paul faculty have been teaching hybrid courses since 2007. A hybrid course (also called blended course) is one that includes some traditional sessions meeting face-to-face and some sessions that meet online.

Our faculty have gone through extensive learning about how to recreate the learning environment using technology through a grant from the Missouri United Methodist Foundation. They did so with the primary mission in mind: high quality theological education that equips students for diverse ministries and vocations. The costs for online and face-to-face classes will be the same per credit hour.

The faculty have created a specific rotation of online courses. They’ve further reduced the commute of students by creating the hybrid courses comprised of 5 face-to-face classes and 10 online classes. New curricular options, including basic graduate theological studies, will now be available to both students and interested seekers.

The Saint Paul faculty is committed to offering the most effective teaching methods possible to prepare students for diverse calls, vocations, and ministries. When we give students experience with social media, course management systems, web resources, digitized presentations, and other online experiences; students are better prepared to use these activities imaginatively in ministry.

Dr. Nancy Howell to Serve as Acting President at Saint Paul

The Saint Paul Board of Trustees has named Dr. Nancy Howell as the Saint Paul School of Theology Acting President this spring. Her term will begin March 2, 2016 as Rev. H. Sharon Howell retires.

Nancy Howell brings multiple years of experience serving in administration. She led as Saint Paul Academic Dean from 1998-2004, Acting Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean from 2009-2010, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean from 2010-2011. Dr. Howell has taught as Professor of Theology and Philosophy of Religion for twelve years and led the way with hybrid teaching, combining online and classroom instruction, since 2007. She holds the Oubri A. Poppele Chair in Health and Welfare Ministries.

Saint Paul Board Chair Twila Glenn said, “The Board is delighted that Nancy Howell will lead the seminary in this capacity during this time of transition. Dr. Howell is prepared and authorized to act as president of Saint Paul in every way.”

The seminary is extraordinarily grateful for the Holy Conversations, intentional relationships, and promising future nurtured by President Rev. H. Sharon Howell. The Saint Paul community invites you to join us in praying for continued blessings and opportunities during this time of presidential transition.

                       Dr. Nancy Howell and Rev. H. Sharon Howell

Dr. Nancy Howell (left) elected Acting President as Rev. H. Sharon Howell (right) retires from presidency. The Howells laugh explaining that they know of no family relations between them.