Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Wimberly School of Religion prepares students


OCU students who will attend the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies conference are, from left, Trey Witzel, Molly Kate Been, and Keith Bethell.

The Wimberly School of Religion at OCU enjoys a national reputation for producing quality graduates.

In Chicago last November, professors Sharon Betsworth and Lisa Wolfe gathered with eight Wimberly School alumni attending the Annual Meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion.

Alumni included Jason Blakeburn (Class of 2012), who is doing graduate study at Boston University School of Theology; Tasha Sargent (’10), Erin Floyd, Fernie Rivera, and Josh Attaway (all ’11), students at Garrett Theological Seminary; Emily Valles (’11), a student at Loyola University; and Blake Huggins (’08), a 2011 alumus of Boston University School of Theology, now living in Nashville and planning to begin doctoral work in theology and philosophy of religion.

These students said they felt right at home in the gathering of scholars from across the nation. Joanna Chenoweth (’12), who is studying at Drew School of Theology, appreciated the opportunity to learn in that setting.

"Some of the scholars I heard or saw were the people who wrote the books and commentaries I read as a student in the Wimberly School," she said. "Their attention to detail, structure, and nuances of the text was fascinating and affirmed my deep interest in the field of biblical studies."

The students at the reunion agreed that OCU had prepared them very well for the level of graduate work they encounter. Many OCU students enter seminaries already in possession of a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and familiar with much of the material offered in first-year seminary classes.

In March, several religion majors in the Wimberly School will go to the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies conference in Dallas.

Junior Trey Witzel will present a paper, "Amos and ‘The Hunger Games,’" in the Theta Alpha Kappa (a religion honor society) section. Keith Bethell, a senior, will present "Prophetic Literature ‘On the Road to Zion’" in the Arts, Literature, and Religion section — a rare honor for an undergraduate, because this category usually is reserved for faculty.

Professors Dann May, Wolfe, and Betsworth are all presenting papers. Professor John Starkey and religion major Molly Kate Been will attend as well.

Wimberly School of Religion Director Betsworth said, "This conference will give our students valuable experience in the public presentation of their research as well as the opportunity to hear and interact with some of the top biblical scholars in the country."


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