Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

6 complete religion studies at OCU


Members of the 2012 graduating class of OCU’s Wimberly School of Religion are: (Top row) Jason Blakeburn, Tessa Stutzman, and Steven Michael Godwin; (front row) Joanna Chenoweth, Alyssa Wardwell, and Annette McCoy.

The Wimberly School of Religion graduated a class of six religion majors this school year. Oklahoma City University celebrates the accomplishments of these fine young people and commends them on their continued journeys.

  • Tessa Stutzman spoke for all the graduates when she expressed her appreciation for the faculty and staff of the Wimberly School of Religion. She noted that Dr. Leslie Long was especially influential in her ­studies.

"In her courses," Stutzman wrote, "we learned practical knowledge that can be used in real-life situations, which was extremely helpful for me as I worked with youth in local congregations." She hopes to work as a minister to children or youth in The United Methodist Church.

  • "Opportunity" is the word Joanna Chenoweth chose to sum up her university experience. At OCU, she had the opportunity to form some of her closest friendships and to study with incredibly gifted faculty across the disciplines.

"Studying with Dr. Lisa Wolfe was an opportunity in which I discovered my love and passion for Hebrew and Ecclesiastes," Chenoweth wrote. "I had the opportunity to serve as the chapel intern the past three years with Rev. Rodney Newman, university chaplain, as my mentor. This opportunity for hands-on experience in worship planning and ministry as an undergraduate will be valuable over the years as I work to discern my call."

Joanna will begin Master of Divinity studies at The Drew Theological School in the fall, where she was offered a tuition scholarship and annual stipend.

  • Steven Michael Godwin plans to work in a local church in youth ministry.

  • Jason Blakeburn received the Dean’s Fellowship from Boston University, where he will study for a master’s degree in philosophy. This fellowship awards him full tuition plus an annual stipend.

  • OCU was a place of personal growth for Alyssa Wardwell. "I was challenged and stretched academically, morally, socially, and spiritually. OCU was a nurturing environment where I could work through those situations and come to better understand where I stand in those areas."

Alyssa will marry during this month and hopes to work in the Church or a non-profit organization before returning to school for a master’s degree.

  • Annette McCoy appreciates so many of her professors and staff persons, but one experience especially stands out to signify what OCU has meant in her life.

In McCoy’s first semester at school, Professor Dann May assigned a service-learning project in a World Religions course. McCoy’s small group decided to host an interfaith discussion panel. They were tasked to find speakers from varying religious traditions who were available on a particular night, to develop discussion questions, and to advertise the event to the campus community. Despite challenges early in the process, the event attracted a large crowd and received positive reviews.

"I could hardly believe I had been involved in such a successful event, let alone be in charge of it," wrote McCoy. This experience gave her confidence to step outside her comfort zone and is one example of how OCU enabled her to believe in herself.

She will begin M.Div. studies at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, where she hopes to participate in the dual degree program with George Warren Brown School of Social Work. She ultimately wants to work with a faith-based non-profit organization or as a chaplain.

For information about pursuing an undergraduate degree in religion at OCU, contact Dr. Sharon Betsworth at sbetsworth@okcu.edu.  To learn more about the Master of Religious Education program, contact Dr. Leslie Long at llong@okcu.edu.


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