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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 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