Pastoral Care in the Classroom and Beyond

In the rhythm of the academic year, this is the first week after the end of the fall term. The last few days of a semester are always filled with students, staff and faculty scrambling to tie up loose ends and meet all the deadlines.

Although I spend most of my time serving as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, I continue to teach the required course in pastoral care. Much of teaching pastoral care involves engaging case studies of real life situations, either through discussion or role-plays.

This semester the class encountered a dying man, a struggling family, a victim of assault, a combat veteran, and many more. As students imagined themselves caring for these people they began to see the complexity of human beings and realized that pastoral care is not about learning a series of techniques. Pastoral care is a disposition, an art, a way of thinking and being.

There is rarely, if ever, one right way to attend to people who are suffering. Healing and transformational care involves a relationship between human beings who each brings with them their own unique person and life-history. When done well, both caregiver and care receiver are changed in the process. Throughout the semester, more than whether or not they do the “right” thing, I am interested in how students engage in the process, how deeply they can reflect on the complexity of the situation, how able they are to open themselves up beyond their preconceived notions and engage in compassionate practice.

I currently have an electronic stack of final papers to grade over the holidays. While I do not enjoy putting a grade on each paper, I do look forward to reading them. Students were given a choice of two case situations, one about a single man living with loss while parenting a teenage son and another about a family living with domestic violence.

Students were asked to write about how they would approach the situation and provide care. They begin with placing the whole situation in the context of the church’s ministry and God’s love. Students will articulate where they see God’s presence and activity in the situation, including signs of sin and hope. They will discuss possible interpretations of what is happening within and between persons and consider the impact of sociocultural realities. Then, given all these reflections, students will propose a way forward toward healing.

As I read the papers I will have the joy of seeing the commitment and passion my students bring to their seminary education and to ministry. I will seek to make my grading an act of care.

Dr. Jeanne Hoeft, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care, and Franklin and Louise Cole Associate Professor in Town and Country Ministries

Iowa Student Finds Peace in Dedicating All to Christ

Iowa student, Fredrick Killian, exemplified American success in his professional life. But he was restless—and it showed. He served in a number of different professions, including law enforcement, hotel management and hospitality, and then, executive management for nursing homes. Though he won awards and accolades with each change of profession, he knew he hadn’t found his true vocation.

One day, a woman—a complete stranger—approached him and said, “Is your name Fredrick? I want you to know, you need to be a pastor. You need to dedicate your life or you’ll never be satisfied.” After praying and talking with his pastor, Fredrick started realizing this could be his calling after all. All his professional experiences thus far seemed to give him skills that could aid him in ministry. “Looking back, God was doing a tremendous amount of preparation in my life,” Killian says. Providence led Killian to Saint Paul, where he felt everything fell into place.

He now works at Ames First UMC in Ames, Iowa and is in his second year at the seminary, serving on the Student Council leadership team. “I truly enjoy the Saint Paul faculty, staff, and students. On days when I come in running on empty, I always leave feeling renewed and full again.” Killian laughs that with his stocky frame, long beard, and booming voice, he doesn’t fit the bill of the stereotypical pastor. But talk with him for a while and you’ll begin to understand that he’s a person for the people.

“I love doing God’s genuinely raw work,” he explained. Killian began a prison ministry program about eight months ago. He goes into jails for three, one-hour worship times. Each gathering now has an average of 40 inmates. Recently a self-proclaimed atheist asked to be baptized after six weeks of worship and discussion. “God is so powerful,” said Killian.

Fredrick Killian attended a workshop at Women at the Well, a United Methodist congregation located within the walls of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, Iowa. There he met and received mentoring tips from Saint Paul Alumna, Rev. Lee Schott, MDiv ’07, and team member Brenda Hobson. This experience led Killian to become involved in reentry ministry for women –finding clothing, housing, and calling in favors to get women jobs. He smiles as he tells of one former inmate assigned to his team that recently got promoted to a manager position at a local fast food restaurant. It’s her first time to feel like a contributing member of the community, and to complete a successful stay in the local half-way house.

Killian attributes much of his seminary and ministry progress to his high-quality professors at Saint Paul. He moves forward with an authentic attitude to show Christ’s love: “I want everything I do, every pore in my body, to scream Christ in me.”

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

Distinguished Graduate Award: Bishop Mande Muyombo


President Neil Blair presented the Distinguished Graduate Award at the 2017 Saint Paul School of Theology Commencement Ceremony to Bishop Mande Muyombo. Muyombo received his Master of Divinity degree with an Ethics/Church and Society Concentration in 2010 and his Doctor of Ministry as part of the Children and Poverty in a Globalized Economy cohort in 2015. 

“Bishop Muyombo’s praxis thesis, Affirming Human Dignity of Former Child Combatants: A Collaborative Ministry Model Between Kamina-Ville United Methodist Church and Kamina Methodist University, exemplifies the value of collaborative relationships,” said Dr. Angela Sims, Saint Paul Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Ethics and Black Church Studies. “Brother Guy’s work on behalf and with child soldiers and the communities in which they reside is a reminder that we are called to affirm the humanity in all of God’s children.”

Mande Muyombo worked as president of Kamina Methodist University. He then serve as executive secretary for Africa at United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. Muyombo was later promoted to executive director for Global Mission Connections as part of United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Bishop Muyombo was elected to the North Katanga Episcopacy in March. At 44, he is the youngest bishop in the Congo Central Conference.

“I am committed to working towards the unity of The United Methodist Church because I am a product of the UMC connection,” said Muyombo.


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

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


Media Contact:
Heather Snodgrass | Director of Communications | | (913)253-5084

Come See Author, Professor, and NPR Talk Show Host Dr. Michael Dyson Speak at the 2015 Cleaver Lecture

Saint Paul School of Theology presents the 2015 Cleaver Lecture in Religion and Public Life with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson on April 29th at 7:00 p.m.

Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to see Dr. Michael Dyson present a lecture titled, “Policing the Black Body: Fast Terror and Slow Terror in America.”  This event is free and open to the public!  Dr. Dyson is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and NPR host of the “Michael Eric Dyson Show”.

The lecture will take place at St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri at 7:00 p.m.  The lecture is free and open to the public with a reception following.

Dr. Dyson blends scholarly insight with popular culture and provides commentary on modern social and intellectual thought.  He makes use of cultural criticism, race theory, religion, philosophical reflection, and gender studies.

He has been named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is the author of sixteen books, including Holler if You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr.

Michael Eric Dyson

Saint Paul School of Theology Cleaver Lecturer will be Dr. Dyson on April 29.



Commencement-Oklahoma Campus

Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University will celebrate Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 19 in the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel on the OCU Campus. Join us!

Further details to follow.

Maria Capezio

Commencement-Kansas Campus

Saint Paul School of Theology will celebrate Commencement Convocation on Friday, May 18 in the Wesley Chapel at Church of the Resurrection. Save the date!

Further details to follow.

Tiana Gatewood

Evangelical Society Lecture with Dr. Randy L. Maddox

The Saint Paul School of Theology Evangelical Society Lecture on April 18, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. will be given by Dr. Randy L. Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies, Duke Divinity School. The lecture will be held in Room C041 and is free and open to the public.

Dr. Maddox’s scholarly interests focus on the theology of John and Charles Wesley and theological developments in the later Methodist/Wesleyan tradition. In addition to numerous articles he is author of Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology, a contributor to Wesley and the Quadrilateral, and editor of Aldersgate Reconsidered, Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism, The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley, and Volume 12 of The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley. He serves as general editor of the Wesley Works Editorial Project, and heads a project that makes available all of the verse of Charles Wesley online at the website for the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition at Duke Divinity School.

Maddox is currently the institute secretary of the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies. He served previously as president of the Wesleyan Theological Society, co-chair of the Wesley Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion, and general editor of the Kingswood Books Imprint of Abingdon Press.

Randy L. Maddox is an ordained elder in the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church, and has served as a theological consultant to the Council of Bishops on several projects.

Faculty Forum-Dr. Kristen Kvam

Dr. Kristen Kvam will give a faculty forum on Wednesday, April 11 at 11:00 a.m. The forum will be presented on the seminary’s Leawood, Kansas campus. Join us for this free forum or login and see it via facebook live,

Faculty Forum-Dr. Jim Brandt

Dr. Jim Brandt will give a faculty forum on Wednesday, March 21 at 11:00 a.m. The forum will be presented on the seminary’s Leawood, Kansas campus. Join us for this free event or login and see it via facebook live,


Explore Saint Paul-Prospective Student Event

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of seminary might be like? Come experience a day at Saint Paul School of Theology! The Explore Saint Paul Visit Day for our campuses in the Kansas City or Oklahoma City areas will be from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13.

Attend a class.
Worship in community.
Visit with current students and faculty.
Explore our degree programs.
Discuss scholarship and financial aid options.

Call us today at (913) 253-5042 or send a quick email, to Deana Brink,, to let us know that you’d like to attend.

Faculty Forum-Dr. Young-Ho Chun

Dr. Young-Ho Chun will give a Faculty Forum on February 7 at 11:00 a.m. on the Kansas campus. All are welcome to attend.

Rescheduled Faculty Forum-Dr. Amy Oden

Join us for Faculty Forums in 2018. On Wednesday, January 24 at 11:00 a.m. Dr. Amy Oden will talk about her recent book, Right Here, Right Now, The Practice of Christian Mindfulness. Christians have always practiced mindfulness. Yet, from the popular landscape of mindfulness movement, you’d never know that. 

Her book reveals the Christian roots of mindfulness and the actual practices that, when reclaimed, deepen the life of faith and the power of our mission of love in the world. Our lives can be transformed toward mercy, justice and abundant life.

Dr. Oden will give this forum at the Saint Paul at OCU campus. You can see it via the Saint Paul School of Theology facebook page,


Spring New Student Orientation

Incoming Saint Paul School of Theology students beginning their studies in the Spring 2018 semester will gather for an orientation to the seminary. Topics will include technology access, citing sources in your research, and community group opportunities.

New Student Orientation will occur on both the Kansas and Oklahoma campuses with connection via video link.

For further information contact:

Kansas Campus
Rev. Margaretta Narcisse

Oklahoma Campus
Rev. Rick Burns