Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

School of Religion excels in preparing students for seminary and youth ministry


Since you became involved in Oklahoma’s United Methodist family, you likely have been directly affected by a graduate of Oklahoma City University.

Alumni are serving local churches as pastors, musicians, business administrators, and youth/children ministry directors, as well as hospital chaplains and in nonprofit service agencies.

The OCU Wimberly School of Religion is a wonderful resource, right here in the state, to train young people and second-career folks for successful and faithful ministry in the churches and beyond.

The School offers five undergraduate majors: Religion, Religion/Philosophy, Youth Ministry, Religious Education, and World Religions.

Students on the path to ordained ministry often choose Religion or Religion/Philosophy. Both provide excellent preparation for seminary.

Recent graduates are attending Saint Paul, Boston, Garrett, and Drew seminaries. Several in the Class of 2014 were awarded full-tuition scholarships with stipends for their studies.

Sharon Betsworth, director of the Wimberly School, appreciates the quality program and gifted colleagues who teach and mentor.

"We are excited to be able to prepare young people for ministry in Oklahoma, both the students who plan on attending seminary and becoming pastors and those who want to serve the church as a youth minister or Christian educator," said Rev. Dr. Betsworth.

OCU is one of a handful of United Methodist schools offering the degree in Youth Ministry.

This field is dear to the heart of Leslie Long, professor of Christian Education. She said the church community continues to ask how we can reach out to young people.

"One of the most important things we can do is have trained educators in the church," Rev. Dr. Long said. "Religious education for children and youth has lasting, positive effects in the lives of young people.

"National research studies indicate that youth who are part of a healthy learning community, where they are given the chance to develop in their faith, are more likely to turn away from harmful temptations and stay connected to the church in adulthood. Failing to emphasize the importance of this ministry does a disservice to our families and especially our children and youth."

Youth Ministry and Religious Education prepare students to work in local churches in these fields. Many students even begin their ministry during their time at OCU.

For the past three years, 100 percent of OCU’s graduates in these majors immediately have found employment in these areas. Many continued serving the churches where they worked during college.

  • OCU continues to offer the Bishop’s Scholarship, which annually grants full-tuition awards for three students in the School of Religion. Applications are due Dec. 15.
  • Other scholarships are available for UM students studying religion.
  • The university also offers tuition remission for clergy dependents.

For more information or a scholarship application, contact Charles Neff, vice president for University-Church Relations, 405-208-5060, cneff@okcu.edu;  or visit www.okcu.edu/religious-life/umc-scholarships/.


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Melaina Riley hands a program to Jackie Bolton, fellow Bishop’s Scholar, at a recent chapel service.


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