The first graduates of the Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University will receive their Master of Divinity degrees Friday.
The inaugural class of five has completed three years of study together.
David Gardner, a member of the inaugural graduating class and pastor at the First United Methodist churches in Anadarko and Verden, said the seminary experience was challenging and rewarding. Gardner enrolled in seminary after working in municipal government for several decades.
“I loved the program,” Gardner said. “It’s a great 90 (semester) hours.”
He said the challenging phases were balanced by a deeper understanding of theology.
“They peel you like an onion to get down to your core values and you have to examine those things, but hopefully when you put everything back together your faith and theology is stronger from that process,” he said.
Gardner said he also has found an appreciation for lifelong learning.
“A big part of being prepared to do all the things a church asks of a pastor is to continue learning,” he said.
Gardner ministered at Grandfield and Randlett United Methodist churches during his seminary studies. His wife, Jana, said both congregations were a blessing to the couple.
“They were so respectful while David was doing all of his work and of his study days,” she said. “Now, they’re just as excited about his graduation as we are even though we’re not there anymore.”
Gardner said he is looking forward to the future. His peers are just as excited to begin their journeys after seminary. Also graduating are AnnaMarie George, Tari Carbaugh, Felecia Hensley and Nathan Mills.
The graduation ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Aug. 19 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 222 N.W. 15th St. and is open to the public.
For more information about the Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University, visit www.spst.edu/ok.