You Make Change Possible

About 15 years ago, a very fine pastor made a comment that haunts me still: “I’m glad seminaries are changing. I just hope they can change fast enough to be helpful to congregational life.” This pastor experienced the daily maelstrom of ministry and worried about the lag time between change as experienced in front-lines ministry and a seminary’s curriculum.

Indeed, the church world of 1981 in which I entered full-time ministry is all but passed. The advent of the internet, email, and social media has changed families, workplaces, schools, civic communities, politics, and congregations—and the felt need to congregate—radically.

Change has been a constant at Phillips. Over my 19 years at Phillips, I’ve seen the seminary change in ways unimaginable in 1993 when I first joined the faculty as the Doctor of Ministry program director. From moving to Tulsa to teaching online, Phillips has changed to meet the needs for an educated ministry and an educated church.

Phillips donors have made it possible for the seminary to change as the times change. Donors funded the move to Tulsa, transformed an office building into the seminary’s home, and enabled the technology and training to teach online as well as on campus.

Phillips needs your help to adapt effectively to the changing needs of ministerial education for the church today. As of January 2018, Phillips will offer theological education in three modes:

1.      Graduate education for ministry.

You know about the seminary’s graduate degree programs. You may not know that your support has made it possible for the seminary to offer 80% scholarships for ALL Disciples, United Church of Christ students, and persons of color; and 60% scholarships for EVERYONE else. Your gift today ensures our students have the opportunity to minimize their financial burden while pursuing their call.

2.      Ministry training.

You may not know that the seminary will soon (January 1) offer the online program of ministry training presented for over a century by the MidAmerica Center for Ministry. Congregations need more part-time and bi-vocational pastors. The demand for affordable, accessible, stable, high-quality but non-degree education for ministry is increasing. As one of the ministry training students said:

Seminary wasn’t an option for me but when [this ministry training program] became available online, it opened up a pathway for me to fulfill what I believe God wants me to be doing. Because of this program, I am in a learning and growing mode.

Phillips is blessed to be in a position to take up ministry training education, but we can’t do it alone. Your gift will help this program meet the future needs of the church.

3.      Public expressions of theological education.

Phillips’ brand of theological education has always had a public emphasis. How do Christians bring their faith commitments into public life; how do Christians best work with God for the transformation of the world? In recent years, one expression of that public commitment is the seminary’s work in interfaith relations in Tulsa. Phillips faculty and staff are coveted participants in community organizations and dialogues. In addition, the seminary hosts an interreligious understanding program. This public, adult education offering is staffed by practitioners of six different faith groups. In spring 2018, we will expand the program to Oklahoma City. One recent Tulsa participant wrote:

While I think I was already respectful of all the religions presented, knowing more about them and hearing a person talk about her or his religion made each religion seem more real rather than the representations of religion on the TV screen or in a book. 

The seminary continues to explore ways to increase respect for all persons, how to bring Christian faith responsibly into public life, and how best to contribute to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”: love, compassion, justice.

Your support enables Phillips Theological Seminary to embrace the changes necessary to serve graduate students, to offer ministry training, and to educate larger publics with Good News. Your gift to the annual fund is essential for this work


Gary Peluso-Verdend, PhD

President and Associate Professor of Practical Theology



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Phillips Theological Seminary offers Christian graduate theological education
in service of intelligent, just, and compassionate religious and civic communities. We welcome
students to a safe space for truth-seeking conversations about the Bible, Jesus, and faithful living.
Courses available on campus and online for certificate, diploma, MDiv, MAMC, MASJ, & MTS
programs, and on campus for the DMin program.

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Tulsa, OK 74116

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