Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Saint Paul at OCU advances on goal


Residency requirement slated for change

Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University has reached a major milestone. After a recent visit, an official group from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) has recommended that the Oklahoma City campus be authorized to offer all the courses for each of its degree programs.

The ATS Board of Commissioners will receive and act on the group’s report at its next meeting.

Each seminary student has been required to complete one-third of his/her courses on the Saint Paul campus in Kansas City, Mo.

Saint Paul at OCU began operations in 2008, offering the Master of Divinity degree. This AST recommendation also applies to the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts (Theological Studies), and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

"The removal of the residency requirement and the addition of the other three degree programs is a major step in the development of Saint Paul at OCU," said Dean Elaine Robinson. "This has been our goal since the beginning, and we’ve worked steadily to create a campus that excels at preparing people for ministry in today’s world.

"I’m delighted that the site visitors confirmed how well we’re fulfilling our mission."

 The success of Saint Paul in Oklahoma City has been a collaborative effort, strengthened by the support of the Oklahoma Conference and United Methodist-related Oklahoma City University. It is heralded as a unique model for theological education.

 "It’s a new day for Saint Paul at OCU. We are overjoyed at the news, and personally, as a bishop, I am just so happy," said Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. "It has also given The United Methodist Church a strong setting in the South Central Jurisdiction. I can see Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University getting stronger and stronger each year.

"This is not only a blessing for the seminary and to the Conference, but also to the Kingdom itself."

This change relieves students of difficulties associated with travel and time away from home, as well as opens new opportunities.

"Eliminating the travel requirement lessens the financial and emotional hardship placed on students, who had the burden of leaving families and ministry settings behind with added travel, lodging, and food expenses," said Master of Divinity student Lora Stiles. She pastors the Spavinaw and Salina churches, Bartlesville District.

She continued, "The additional degree programs allow more servants to answer the call to seminary, opening the door to persons seeking specialized ministries and continued theological education while remaining in their home region and established ministry settings."

Saint Paul’s acting president, Kevin LaGree, noted, "Saint Paul’s Oklahoma City campus is already a thriving and vibrant community. Now that courses for all degrees can be offered fully in Oklahoma City, the campus will continue to grow from strength to strength as it helps fulfill the seminary’s mission to ‘educate leaders to make disciples for Jesus Christ, renew the church, and transform the world.’ "

"I’m excited about where we go from here," said Rev. Dr. Robinson.  "We’ve only begun to imagine what we can be for the sake of vital churches and visionary leaders."

More info: www.spst.edu/ok

— Contributed by Heather Chamberlin


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Students surround Elaine Robinson, dean of Saint Paul seminary at OCU, in Fall 2013. From left are Adam Shahan, Gerald Goodrich, and Andy Nelms.

Professor Amy Oden, left, consults with Jennifer Ahrens Sims, a Master of Divinity student enrolled in Saint Paul at OCU.
Photos by Heather Chamberlin

Saint Paul snapshot

Spring enrollment for Saint Paul seminary

42 students in Oklahoma City
135 students in Kansas City

• Total graduates, Saint Paul at OCU

17, in three commencements

Leadership, Saint Paul at OCU

4 faculty, 10 to 12 adjuncts, 3 staff

Full-time faculty, Saint Paul at OCU

Elaine Robinson, Professor of Methodist Studies and Christian Theology Amy Oden, Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality Steven Charleston, Visiting Professor of Native American Ministries Stan Basler, Visiting Professor of Prison Ministry and Restorative Justice



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