By Holly McCray
Classes with no tests and no writing assignments. That’s one attraction of Seminary Lite, designed especially for laypersons and launching in September.
"I often find laity who are hungry to grow in their understanding of the faith, but they don’t want to go to seminary; that’s not their calling," said Elaine Robinson, dean of Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University.
The Oklahoma Conference Board of Laity also has been seeking more education options for laity. Leadership development is core to the Strategic Plan.
Seminary Lite results from collaborative work between Saint Paul School and the board.
The first one-day course is Sept. 17. At OCU, Rev. Dr. Robinson will teach "Introduction to Christian Theology."
One course per month, on a Saturday, will be taught by a qualified professor. A book or selected readings will be assigned in advance. Students are not required to be United Methodists.
Class will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Upon completion of six basic courses, Saint Paul School will grant the student a Lay Certificate in Theological Studies. The six do not have to be completed in one school year or in a specific order.
Seminary Lite will help laypeople learn how to analyze biblical texts, the dean explained. The seminarian’s word for that process: exegesis.
And the new program will help people define how they serve God.
"The Discipline says every Christian is in ministry," Robinson noted. "You have to discern the gifts and graces that are uniquely yours. If you are the hand but you don’t know it, then the Body of Christ is not complete."
She continued, "If we have a more educated laity, we push our clergy to be responsible for their ongoing education as well, because we have laity asking more questions, thinking in new ways. This is healthy for the Church."
The October course is "Introduction to the New Testament." In November: "Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament."
Other classes will spotlight worship, church history, and UM heritage.
Registration fee is $50 per class and includes lunch. Contact Rachel McClain, 405-208-5757.