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 www.okcu.edu/religion/undergraduate/major.

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 www.spst.edu/masters-degrees.

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.

Alum-Reunion-(4)Web Alum-Reunion-(3)Web Alum-Reunion-(2)Web

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.

Saint Paul School of Theology President H. Sharon Howell Announces Retirement

President Sharon HowellCiting medical concerns, Saint Paul School of Theology President Rev. H. Sharon Howell will step down from her leadership post, effective March 1, 2016. Although passionate about Saint Paul School of Theology’s mission and future, Rev. Howell said she made her decision at the urging of her physician.

“This is a tough moment for me. There is no other institution that could have called me out of retirement, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve with and among students, staff, and faculty at both locations,” Rev. Howell said. “I step back into retirement knowing that Saint Paul is positioned for future growth with the establishment of strong collaborations and programs designed to attract students who will serve faithfully and effectively all over the world.”

The Saint Paul Board of Trustees selected Rev. Howell to lead the seminary as president in July 2014, and the former pastor graciously agreed to emerge from retirement. Under her leadership, the seminary established the 3 plus 3 program in collaboration with Kansas Wesleyan University, as well as the Saint Paul Fellows program, which eliminates student loan debt for candidates called to full-time ministry through fully endowed scholarships.

“We will miss Rev. Howell’s steady presence and dedication,” said Saint Paul Vice President for Advancement David Sisney. “We have made great progress in raising funds under President Howell’s leadership.”

Saint Paul Board of Trustee Chair Twila Glenn expressed gratitude for Rev. Howell’s willingness to serve.

“I want to thank Sharon Howell for her dedication to this seminary, our students, faculty and staff. Her commitment to theological education sets us up for success long into the future,” Glenn said. “While I am deeply saddened, I fully respect and support Rev. Howell’s decision to focus on her health.”

The Saint Paul Board of Trustees will convene the week of Feb. 8 to prepare a transition plan for immediate and long-term leadership for the seminary.

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Saint Paul School of Theology Prepares for Wave of Pastoral Retirements

More pastors will retire in next decade than candidates in school, creating unprecedented need and opportunity for young clergy.

dr chun and class

Leawood, Kan. and Oklahoma City, Okla.– Saint Paul School of Theology is responding to the coming “tsunami” of clergy retirements with full-ride scholarships, a fast-tracked master’s program and a new hands-on, collaborative curriculum.

“The graying of the United Methodist Church’s clergy ranks is an issue of utmost importance to Saint Paul,” Saint Paul President H. Sharon Howell said. “More than half of our ordained pastors are over the age of 55. There is an unprecedented demand for young clergy in our congregations.”

The expected exodus of pastors into retirement, however, creates an opportunity for the church and its United Methodist seminaries to identify and train a new generation of clergy.

“The church is part of an ever-changing world. We know there are creative, servant-oriented candidates for ordained ministry in our churches and communities,” Howell said. “We just want to make sure those candidates understand that seminary education can be affordable, flexible and transformational.”

Read more about opportunities for young clergy in this 2015 report from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.


Expanded Fellows Program

Central to Saint Paul’s outreach effort is the expansion of its groundbreaking full tuition and fellowship program in 2016. The three-year Fellows program offers candidates called to full-time ministry the opportunity to obtain a master of divinity degree and gain real-life pastoral experience without incurring student loan debt.

“The average seminary student graduates with $45,000 in student loan debt.The opportunity for future church leaders to graduate free of seminary debt and begin serving is a tremendous gift made possible only through the generosity and vision of Saint Paul supporters, United Methodist Conferences, benefactors and donors,” Howell said.

The application deadline for prospective students interested in the Saint Paul Fellows Program is Feb. 1, 2016. Finalists will be invited for on-site interviews following application review and acceptance.

Find out more details on the Fellows program and a link to the application here.

New 3+3 Program

Saint Paul School of Theology is helping students move more quickly into full-time ordained ministry by launching an innovative 3+3 theological studies undergraduate-graduate program in partnership with Kansas Wesleyan University. Leaders of both institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015, creating a first of its kind fast-track program between a United Methodist seminary and United Methodist university.

Under the 3+3 program, Kansas Wesleyan students would condense the four-year course of study for a Christian Ministry major into three years, followed by the completion of the Saint Paul School of Theology three-year Master of Divinity degree. The program allows students to prepare for entry into the ministry and ordination in six years rather than seven, enabling them to earn both a B.A. and M.Div. degree.

“Saint Paul is thrilled to collaborate with Kansas Wesleyan University in this bold and unique approach designed to save time and money for students who are called to serve,” Howell said.

Read more about the 3+3 program in this report.

New Curriculum Saves Students Time and Money

Saint Paul School of Theology continues to innovate its all-new curriculum centered around spiritual formation and practical collaboration with its partner churches, including United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan.

The new curriculum requires fewer hours to complete and includes spiritual formation retreats, hands-on experience in a church setting and ministry collaboration groups led by experienced clergy.

Read more about the seminary’s new collaborative curriculum here.

“We are Saint Paul”

Saint Paul School of Theology students are called from every walk of life and circumstance. Our graduates include a U.S. Congressman, a former Kansas City Chiefs football player, a man wrongfully imprisoned for two decades, corporate leaders and stay-at-home moms. The common denominator among Saint Paul students is a desire to serve an ever-changing church in a broken and hurting world.

“Whether it is serving on staff at the largest United Methodist congregation in the country or assuming pastoral duties in a rural or urban church setting in Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska or Kansas, Saint Paul students will receive intentional practical experience combined with rigorous scholarship and small group reflection during their time in seminary,” Howell said.

If you’d like to see yourself at Saint Paul, click here.

About Saint Paul School of Theology

Established in 1958, Saint Paul School of Theology is a United Methodist seminary with groundbreaking collaborations with UM Church of the Resurrection, the largest United Methodist church in the United States and Oklahoma City University, an award-winning United Methodist university. While students and faculty are predominately United Methodist, over 20 denominations are represented in the seminary community each year. Saint Paul offers Master of Arts (Theological Studies), Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry. Saint Paul is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), as well as The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The seminary is also approved by the University Senate of The United Methodist Church. Learn more at http://www.spst.edu.

Saint Paul Fellows: February Deadline for Full Tuition and Fellowship

Seminary Fellows Program Eliminates Student Loan Debt for Future Pastors

Leawood, Kan. and Oklahoma City, Okla.— Saint Paul School of Theology, one StPaul-Fellows_Logo_4cseminary in two locations: Oklahoma City University and Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS will expand its groundbreaking full tuition and fellowship program  The three-year Fellows program offers candidates called to full-time ministry the opportunity to obtain a master of divinity degree and gain real-life pastoral experience without incurring student loan debt, Saint Paul President H. Sharon Howell announced.

“Saint Paul is thrilled to be able to grow this one-of-a-kind fellowship program for students seeking a career in full-time ministry,” Howell said. “The average seminary student graduates with $45,000 in student loan debt. The opportunity for future church leaders to graduate free of seminary debt and begin serving is a tremendous gift made possible only through the generosity and vision of Saint Paul supporters, United Methodist Conferences, benefactors and donors.”

“We are looking for seminarians with a desire to serve an ever-changing church in a broken and hurting world. Whether it is serving on staff at the largest United Methodist congregation in the country or assuming pastoral duties in a rural or urban church setting in Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska or Kansas, the Saint Paul Fellows will receive intentional practical experience combined with rigorous scholarship and will have an active clergy mentor who works with them during their time in seminary,” Howell said.

The application deadline for prospective students interested in the Saint Paul Fellows Program is Feb. 1, 2016. Finalists will be invited for on-site interviews following application review and acceptance. More details on the Fellows program and a link to the application can be found at http://www.spst.edu/fellows/.

About Saint Paul School of Theology

Established in 1958, Saint Paul School of Theology is a United Methodist seminary with groundbreaking collaborations with UM Church of the Resurrection, the largest United Methodist church in the United States and Oklahoma City University, an award-winning United Methodist university. While students and faculty are predominately United Methodist, over 20 denominations are represented in the seminary community each year. Saint Paul offers Master of Arts (Theological Studies), Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry. Saint Paul is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), as well as The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The seminary is also approved by the University Senate of The United Methodist Church. Learn more at http://www.spst.edu.

 

Media Contact:
Heather Snodgrass | Director of Communications | heather.snodgrass@spst.edu | (913)253-5084