A few of you know that I have been living a double life! Journalist by day, seminarian by night and weekend.
As hard as it is to believe, I'm in my fourth year — of at least five — at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa. Since fall 2009, I've carried nine hours per semester: one class once a week in Tulsa, one class online, and one class in a weeklong or other kind of concentrated course on campus. Summers off to recuperate.
I'm in the 82-hour program for the Master of Divinity, and I am aiming for ordination in the United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org). I do not plan to quit my day job. Rather, my intention has always been to serve part-time. But, God having a great sense of humor, I have to be open to anything.
Why bring it up now? Because my worlds are colliding this semester.
It's the second half of a year of supervised ministry, which requires service in a social service agency as well as a primary ministry site.
My social service agency is Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity (www.cohfh.org), 5005 S Interstate 35 Service Road. Thank you, and God bless you, Ann Felton Gilliland, CEO. I'm going to be mentioning Central Oklahoma Habitat, and my experience, in this space off and on until summer, so I thought I'd start by spelling this out.
Most people, in the real estate business especially, know something about Habitat. It's “a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry working in partnership with God and the community to build decent, affordable housing, and to provide hope for responsible, hardworking, limited income families living in substandard conditions,” according to its mission statement. It's an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International.
My main ministry site is Mayflower Congregational-UCC Church (www.mayflowerucc.org), 3901 NW 63, where I am a member. I've preached there a few times, taught a class or two and serve on the Board of Christian Education.
Who we are and what we believe:
“The people of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church of Oklahoma City invite you to experience Christianity as a way of life, not a set of creeds and doctrines demanding total agreement. We invite you to join us as we seek to recover the meaning of the gospel for our time, looking to scripture, faith, and reason — interpreted by love. At Mayflower we believe that what Jesus teaches us about God is more important than what the church has taught us about Jesus.
“We believe in the liberty of conscience, the responsibility of every believer to work out his or her own salvation, and the obligation of faithful men and women to become partners with God in building the kingdom. We take the Bible seriously, not literally, and believe that in our time the church must recover, above all, its radical hospitality — welcoming all persons into her midst, without regard to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical abilities.”
And here's a little about Phillips Theological Seminary, 900 N Mingo Road in Tulsa, which has origins in Enid at long-closed Phillips University. About Phillips:
“Phillips Theological Seminary is a graduate seminary, affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), dedicated to preparing women and men for varied Christian ministries in church and society. We are a community of teachers and learners seeking to be faithful to God through disciplined, reasoned, and reflective study of scripture, religious tradition, and human experience. We exist primarily to serve the church's need for an educated ministry. ...
“We offer a unique brand of theological education in this region of the country: the tandem of ecumenical theological education and denominational formation in partnership with various Christian denominations. In addition, we welcome students who are not pursuing ministerial degrees but who want to explore and deepen their faith by taking specific courses in our curriculum. Furthermore, as an ecumenically oriented seminary, we employ faculty and staff and welcome students from over 20 denominations.”