Can you tell us about Stillwater?
Stillwater is a true college town - Oklahoma State University plays a major role in our city. When school is in session university students make up one third of the entire city’s population. The university is the largest employer in town by far, and city life revolves around the university. Students come from all over the world to earn a degree and then move on to the city and career of their choosing.
Why are you starting a Union Learning Community?
Put simply, Stillwater has a culture of education and it’s a place which is forming leaders of the future. That means it’s a great place for a Union Learning Community which seeks to raise up future leaders for Christ’s church! In addition to all the college students finishing their degree and often considering a graduate degree as a possible next step, there are many campus ministry workers and church staff labouring faithfully in the city. Offering a Union Learning Community allows those who want a theological degree to earn one without uprooting their life and family. But it also means they can still benefit from learning within a community. That’s something which traditional distance learning courses lack – although great for accessibility, those kinds of courses just don’t offer the necessary spiritual and personal formation that learning within a community offers. Plus, the act of learning itself is far better when done in discussion alongside others. Union’s model of Learning Communities offers this healthy learning and spiritual environment. Students will walk side by side with each other through study, ministry, and life as they pursue their graduate degree together, experiencing friendship, support, and encouragement along the way. It’s probably worth noting as well that this model is offered at a price far below that of the average American seminary!
The Learning Community is based at Redeemer Stillwater. Can you tell us how the church envisions the Learning Community as part of its ministry?
Our church, Redeemer Stillwater, sees a unique partnership forming with Union. We are a church plant with Acts 29 who has a strong desire to plant churches and develop church planters and missionaries to send out from Stillwater. Any good ministry development will include theological development. Considering this, we want to offer ministry residencies to those desiring to be in full-time ministry. This is an opportunity to gain real ministry experience and a solid theological education at the same time! College students have the chance to go straight from getting their undergraduate degree to doing graduate studies, while also being developed as leaders in ministry. But anyone in or around Stillwater who is interested in church planting or theological study can benefit from the Learning Community!