Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’

Today I marched in the processional among the Professor Emeritii (the really old guys!)for the inauguration ceremony of Dr. John deSteiguer as the seventh president of Oklahoma Christian University.  Sherrylee and I made a special trip to Oklahoma City for this ceremony, not only because we have many friends there, but because we believe in what Oklahoma Christian is and does!

In 1964, my parents took me on a rainy day to Oklahoma City to have a look at Oklahoma Christian College. I had never seen so much red mud in all my life. The college—as I remember it–was just four buildings in the middle of nowhere!

I did not choose to go there—until 1979, when I began my teaching career as an instructor on a one-year, temporary contract.  That year turned into twenty-four, twenty-four years with wonderful colleagues, thousands of students, and way too many freshmen essays to read!  We loved our years at OC!

Dr. J. Terry Johnson was the president when we came in 1979.  In 1996, after 22 years, he stepped down, and was followed by Kevin Jacobs and Alfred Branch in a transitional time for the university.

Dr. Mike O’Neal left Pepperdine and became OC’s sixth president in 2002. Mike, a good friend from Harding days, brought financial stability to the institution, and left many new buildings and stronger academic programs. He retired this year from office with the gratitude of the OC community.

President deSteiguer steps into office when OC has an excellent enrollment of about 2,250 students from fifty-six countries.  With the enthusiasm that he is bringing to the office, I can’t imagine anything but growth in the future of OC.

I wish there were space to list all the academic achievements of this outstanding university, but you should know that OC was named a “Best University—Master’s in the western region in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.”  OC has excellent programs in Language and Literature, History and Political Science, Biology (95% medical and graduate school placement), 3 ABET accredited engineering programs (very rare!), and a Gaming and Animation program that was selected as one of the top undergraduate programs by Princeton Review.

Well, you can tell that I am very proud of Oklahoma Christian, and I believe that the Board of Trustees has selected an outstanding man as its new president. He has a proven track record professionally, but his family and his personal life are shaped by a deep and evident faith in God.  Above all, his professed dependence upon God is what gives me confidence in the future of Oklahoma Christian.

Congratulations, President deSteiguer.  Our prayers are with you!

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Oklahoma Christian University has been a best-kept secret for too many years!

Last night Sherrylee and I were on their campus again for the 35th Annual Cocoa and Carols, a wonderful program that our dear friend Dr. Ken Adams has produced and directed from its inception. He is retiring at the end of this year after forty-one years at OC, so we especially wanted be there to share it with him and his wife Lindy.

One of the reasons I enjoyed teaching at Oklahoma Christian for so long was that OC has always been committed to excellence, and excellence is difficult to pull off when you are small and in the middle of Oklahoma! Cocoa and Carols is a great example of this kind of excellence, however.

For thirty-five years, Oklahoma Christian has offered its community a classical Christmas program, almost always using a full professional orchestra to accompany its own student choir. Each year they offer their audience a master work by not only the likes of Bach or Mozart, but also modern composers like the Gloria by John Rutter this year! (You can find excerpts of this modern classic on Youtube, if you are unfamiliar with the work like I was.) And this Christmas gift has always been given free to the public! I love it!

I’ve always believed OC has had an excellent academic program, if anyone cares about that anymore! OC has strong majors in sciences, with an excellent record in students going into medical school and other health-related fields. The school of business is highly recognized and the MBA program is one of the best in the State of Oklahoma.  OC has an outstanding engineering program, with a very hands on approach because many of the engineering professors have come directly from their industry to join OC’s faculty.

Of course, I’m a big fan of the liberal arts, so I can say that OC’s English department, history and political science departments, music department, art and graphic design areas all have outstanding professors and, though small, give their students just as much with more personal interaction than is really possible at larger schools.

No, you won’t find a big football program at Oklahoma Christian, but you can find championship golf, tennis, and  track and field, as well as baseball, basketball, women’s softball, and soccer! Social clubs and intramural sports offer plenty of time for play

And I do believe that Oklahoma Christian is still committed to delivering a Christian education, something that not even all colleges with Christian in their name are doing any more.  You can go to church with your professors, or work in inner city missions with them—not just your Bible professors, but your accounting or your biology professor as well.  They may invite you to join them on an overseas mission project during summer break, or they may just sit down with you in the coffee shop to check on your life!

I was trying to decide what keeps Oklahoma Christian hidden from the mainstream of Christian education. Part of the answer is its location—Oklahoma. I have a friend here in Fort Worth, who although living only about 100 miles away from the Sooner state for decades, had never been to Oklahoma.  It’s not Malibu!

Sherrylee would admit to thinking that God had made a big mistake when He sent us to Oklahoma Christian in 1979.  We thought He had taken us way off the map, but I can truly say now, that our years in Oklahoma were just wonderful!  And, although Oklahoma Christian likes to identify itself with the Oklahoma City community, the town of Edmond, to which it truly belongs,  was selected in 2011 #1 on CNBC’s “10 Perfect Suburbs” list!

Let’s don’t keep Oklahoma Christian a secret! It’s not perfect! It’s not the right university for every student! But don’t skip over it just because . . . . You and/or your student might find a wonderful oasis of people who love God and who are committed to offering excellence.

Thank you, thank you to people like Ken and Lindy, to Stafford and Bailey, to Ron and James and Lynn and Bill and John and Joe and Elmo and Kim and so many others who have committed the major years of their lives to teaching young people to be excellent Christians!

Well done, Oklahoma Christian!

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Tulsa Is Alive!

The Tulsa Workshop is in its 36th year as a major event for churches of Christ.  Twenty years ago the attendance was probably near 10,000 and the Pavilion Center was almost full, both floor and upper tier seating.

Christians from the heartland are the main supporters of the Tulsa Workshop, from towns like Owassa and Skytook, Oklahoma, Texans from Mineola—many small towns and smaller churches—great down-home people! . The Workshop was always exciting, foot-stomping, not cerebral or sophisticated—and that served the large audiences for many years. But not so much anymore!

As with many large events, the Tulsa Workshop has declined over the past decade. Honestly, if Sherrylee had not been invited to teach a class, she and I probably would have just sent a staff member to represent LST—but I’m glad we came this year because the Workshop is different!

We do not come every year, but this year is really refreshing and gives me hope that the Tulsa Workshop can survive.  Here are a few things that I have noticed:

1Top-tier keynote speakers ,including some from the more progressive churches of Christ as well as solid, mainstream churches! No political choices; just those who could bring the word powerfully.

2.  Great young preachers giving keynotes, not just the established personalities of the fellowship or local Tulsa prominence! In fact, young preachers were paired with their mentors in a wonderfully biblical Paul-and-Timothy realization of older men teaching younger men.

3.  Challenging classes. The venue does not lend itself to many simultaneous classes, so the limited offerings is unfortunate, but the offered slate of classes is excellent.

4.  Contemporary worship. The organizers this year achieved great balance between modern praise music and older favorites. Balance is perhaps the wrong word because the vast majority of songs were modern.  Consistent use of good praise teams helped overcome difficult acoustics in the arena.

So, kudos to the organizers—rumor I heard was that it was the Memorial Drive church staff! Very well done—and it seems to be very well received! Here is the website for this year’s workshop so you can see for yourself what a good program it was www.tulsaworkshop.org .

Very few large events have survived: most of the Christian college lectureships still exist in some form, but virtually all except Pepperdine’s Bible Lectures have been greatly diminished.  The Tulsa Workshop is on a survival track if they can continue this refreshing  course.  I would make just a few small suggestions:

1.            Be innovative in creating an interactive environment! I’m not just talking about breakout groups, but find ways to create dialogue and interaction, perhaps with new technology. What if you polled the audience using their mobile phones and could show immediate response on the projection screen so that the speaker/facilitator could speak to the responses of that particular group?  Just a small idea!

2. Make an effort to get more ministries to exhibit. For my taste, the exhibitions were too heavy on the commercial. I’ve always loved the exhibit area of lectureships, but I’m looking as much for inspiration as I am another Bible or different religious T-shirt.  That’s just me.

3.            Don’t let the venue determine the nature of the workshop. Good job this year with the changes in buildings, but the difficulties with using the fairgrounds are pretty obvious.

By the way, did I tell you that the Oklahoma redbuds are beautiful! And Tulsa is a beautiful city. Why don’t we all meet next year at the Tulsa Workshop and be blessed together!


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