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Published by jparker, 2021-01-28 15:06:23

Winter 2021 Newsletter

Winter 2021 Newsletter





01 | A Letter from the President | 07 | New Courses Available

03 | GTF In Cuba! | 09 | New Additions to the GTF
| Library
| 10 | Celebrating the Life of
| Angus Hawkins
New Technology Plan
04 | Underway | 11 | Community Spotlight

05 | New Department of |
Chaplain Services
| 12 | 2021 Graduation Plans


EOLOGICAL A Letter from the

“Dear GTF Community,

We leave the year 2020 behind us now, but I think many people have had the
mistaken idea that all the troubles of the past year would stay behind the fence
of the actual year, and that a new year would magically take us to a much better
place. But as the early days of 2021 have shown us, the human calendar makes
no difference. As we begin 2021, the political and social situation of the United
States is in a free-fall, the COVID19 crisis is at its darkest point, and many plac-
es of the world are back into shut down mode. But just as early flowers can rise
out of the snow of winter to witness to the coming Spring, so too there are signs
of hope around us. A new Presidential Administration in the US is promising
to get back on track in our relationships at home and abroad. New vaccines are
slowly rolling out. All signs are that the second half of 2021 may truly be the
time when a new Spring of Hope arrives.


Here at GTF, we recognize that the first half of 2021 will still be challenging.
We will not plan any residential courses during this time, and any practi-
cums and defenses will be offered online only. We will not be able to have
our June graduation, and will mail diplomas to our graduates in late May.
We expect that the summer schools at Oxford and Rome will not be happen-
ing, and we will not promote them to our students unless we learn other-
But GTF is not standing still. As this new year begins, and we ready our-
selves for the hoped-for return to some sense of normalcy, GTF is prepar-
ing! We have many new programs, new courses, new partnerships, and new
technology in the works. You can read about some of them in this newslet-
ter. This new year will truly bring new beginnings to our Institution. In ad-
dition to these, if the fall of 2021 allows, we may be able to hold our home-
coming graduation then. Perhaps we can offer some fall residential courses,
to take advantage of our growing GTF facilities in downtown Oklahoma
City. Perhaps we can offer in-person defenses again. Perhaps we can return
to the plan of working with the Library Science Department of Oklahoma
University as they organize and catalogue our new library. Perhaps the No-
vember Strudwick Lecture that we support at Kellogg College can happen,
and we can be there. Perhaps….

…So much potential awaits. As we enter this new year, it is truly a tale of
two eras. It begins in the worst of times but may end in the best of times.
Time will tell. In the meantime, GTF is blessed to be thriving. I invite you to
see all the new beginnings presented in this newsletter. Let’s hope and pray
that 2021 will truly be the year of new beginnings, for all of us.”


Dr. Paul J Kirbas
President and CEO
Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and

NG NThe ew Partnership Takes Flight

Dr. Paul Kirbas, President of the Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF), and Dr. Carlos Ham, President
of the Evangelical (Ecumenical) Seminary of Matanzas, Cuba, have signed an agreement on behalf of the
two institutions to begin the GTF/SET Latin American Doctor of Ministry program. Being an essentially
ecumenical and inclusive program, the new program offers a professional D.Min for Cuban and Lat-
in-American pastors, women and men, with no less than 5 years of experience in ministry leadership. We
also welcome applicants from abroad who have basic skills in Spanish speaking and writing.
The area of specialization for this new D.Min program is “Planning and Management of Ecclesiastical
Ministries”. The area of specialization complements the training in the field of pastoral or practical the-
ology offered in the Evangelical Seminary of Theology of Matanzas. Starting from previous knowledge
of the characteristics, needs and expectations of the congregation and its community environment, the
program facilitates its graduates with theoretical and practical tools to design a strategic planning of the
mission of the church, as well as organizing, managing, implementing and evaluating the different church
ministries. The program offers the people enrolled the possibility of developing a pastoral project oriented
towards planning and managing one or more ministries as part of the mission of the church, starting from
a concrete ministry experience and with the objective of responding to specific ecclesiastical needs. The
program has a pastoral approach encompassing the role of the pastor and the work lay people do as an
expression of their calling to the Christian ministry or “the universal priesthood of believers.”

The program will have two and a half academic
terms. There will be two on-site encounters, two
weeks-long in each term; the credits of two
courses would be completed in each encounter.
Students will be invited to travel to Cuba and
stay on the campus of the seminary during
these on-site encounter weeks. The courses
will be taught by faculty of GTF and the Seminary.

“I am very excited about this new venture as GTF Dr. Paul Kirbas, Rev. Jennifer Kirbas and
deepens its presence in the Latin American arena”, Dr. Carlos Ham
President Kirbas states. “I am confident that with
the new Administration of President Joe Biden,
travel restrictions will be relaxed and more students
from the states will be able to visit the beautiful
country of Cuba.”

This new Latin American Doctor of Ministry program of GTF and SET is scheduled as a cohort style 03
program in which yearly classes will be formed and a set curriculum will be followed. Depending on
the COVID19 situation, we are hoping to begin our first class in the fall of 2021. Interested students
are encouraged to contact us for more information.

RADUATE TH FOUNDATIO New Technology Plan Underway


Under the guidance of GTF’s new Technology Director, Lawrence Ross, the
Institution is moving toward the implementation of new tools that will greatly
improve the experience and abilities of students and faculty members.

Lawrence Ross • Our first step is to implement a new Student Information System, that will al-
low for smoother registration for courses, registration of grades, development
and distribution of transcripts, the processing of student tuition payments and
financial records, and many other abilities.

• Once this system is in place, we will work on implementing a new online
educational platform called CANVAS. CANVAS is a Learning Management
System that will allow faculty members to develop webpages for their courses,
with possibilities of adding videos and links to articles, etc., and will allow
them to utilize an integrated video tool for direct contacts with students.
Students will also have a CANVAS page that will show them their current
classes, and will allow them to submit papers and assignments directly to their
professors through their CANVAS page. This system will also allow us to cre-
ate online gathering spaces so that we can begin to build community among
our students.

• Our next phase of technology advancement will be to catalogue our growing
physical library, and integrate a computerized catalogue with our online li-
braries. When done, students will be able to search our physical library online
and check out books as desired, or use this system to look for online materials
in our vast network of online library resources. The Library Science Depart-
ment of Oklahoma University will be assisting us in this effort.

• Our final step in this plan is to develop a new GTF website, modernized and
fully integrated with these other technology tools. It will take a good deal of
time to implement these new tools, and to offer the training to all the users,
but in the end, these new tools will greatly enhance the educational experience
of all current and future students, perspective students, and faculty.

IT Director Lawrence Ross states that “Perhaps the underlying theme to all of the things
that we’re doing simply boils down to ‘synergy’ or better yet, ‘connectedness’. Ensuring
that as we move forward with these technology platforms we’re meeting the expectations
of new learners with platforms and processes that they are already familiar with and just
as importantly, giving our students, our facility and our community the ability to access
the wealth of knowledge we have always had, in a way that’s relevant to the way that
people live work and learn today and in the future.”


New Department of Chaplain Services


During the recent months of the COVID crisis, it has become apparent to the GTF administration
that there is a need within our GTF community for spiritual and emotional support. Many of our
current students, faculty, and alumni have shared news of a health crisis, financial crisis, a grief situ-
ation, a job loss, etc. The COVID crisis has increased this awareness, but it has always been present,
and will be in the future. To respond to the pastoral/spiritual needs of our community, GTF has
created a new Department of Chaplain Services.
In addition to one-on-one pastoral care, we hope to see our new Department of Chaplain Services
expand in new directions, such as offering zoom support meetings, having spiritual retreats for min-
istry professionals, and connecting GTF to the surrounding congregations, mosques, and synagogues
of Oklahoma City. Given the multicultural and interfaith characteristics of our GTF community, we
needed to find a chaplain who embraces that diversity, and can base the chaplaincy on general spiritu-
al guidance and relational ministry. We are excited to announce that we have found the perfect person
to fit this unique role. We are happy to introduce our new Director of Chaplain Services, Rev. Carol

Carol Waters was raised in Dallas, Texas but has lived in Okla- Rev. Carol Waters
homa for over 20 years. She attended the University of Texas
at Austin and received a B. A. in English. In 1988, she left her
native Texas to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York
where she received an M.Div. She is a lifelong Presbyterian and
has been a minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian
Church, (U.S.A.) for over 25 years. She has served as pastor of
small churches in Channelview, Texas; Clinton, Oklahoma; and
currently serves as temporary supply pastor of First Presbyte-
rian Church of Elk City, Oklahoma. Her ministry experience
includes five years as a hospice chaplain and a year as a campus
minister. Additionally, she served as part-time stated clerk of
Indian Nations Presbytery. In 2016, she completed a two-year
training course as a spiritual director through Stillpoint: The
Center for Christian Spirituality. She continues to sense a call to
be a spiritual director and is in the process of becoming an inde-
pendent contractor for spiritual direction for Woven Integrated
Health in Oklahoma City.

Carol is married to Mark Wesner. Between them, they have four children and five grandchildren. She
enjoys reading and writing poetry; planning and writing liturgy; gardening; spending time in nature
and trips to a Colorado cabin; learning; being with friends and family; cooking; and thoroughly spoil-
ing the family dogs, Oakley and Mookie. 05

A Message from Chaplain Waters

Dear Friends,

Hello! I bring you greetings from Oklahoma and The Graduate Theological Foundation. I am
thrilled to be in the new role of Director of Interfaith Chaplain Services. As part of the GTF staff, I
look forward to knowing you and becoming part of this richly diverse community. While the ongo-
ing pandemic may preclude us from meeting in person, I am grateful for the opportunity to commu-
nicate by phone, email or Zoom call.
My role “is to offer chaplain support to current students, faculty, and alumni of the Institution.”*
Whether that support is by phone call, written note, email or perhaps through a group gathering,
worship service or book study, I will be available to you as encourager, pastor, counselor, friend,
spiritual companion and curious student. I am excited to learn about the faith journeys, sacred tradi-
tions, and life stories woven into this educational body. While I will begin making connections with
you soon, I hope you will feel free to contact me, if even to just say hello.
The pastoral and spiritual needs, dreams and wisdom of this multicultural, multifaith, international
organization are as many as the stars in the sky! You will be my teachers as I enter this new role. So
that I may better serve you, I invite you to share what you see to be the needs and hopes of this grow-
ing community. What kind of pastoral care would assist and enhance your educational experience
through GTF? In what ways can your pastoral and spiritual needs be better addressed by this com-
munity? I hope to hear from you!
I leave you with these words by one of my favorite North American poets, Wendell Berry:

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Together, may we find courage to ask the deeper questions, to delight in wonder, to exercise curiosity
and to joyfully join the sacred song!
Peace to you,
Carol Waters, Director
Interfaith Chaplain Services
06 [email protected]

EOLOGICAL New Courses Available

As we begin the year 2021, several GTF professors are offering new courses to the curriculum menu. Cur-
rent and future students have the opportunity to take these very current and contemporary courses, not
only to fulfill their degree programs, but to widen their views and deepen their understanding of the lives
we live and the world in which we live. Here are some examples of new courses now available:

Professor Edward Marshall | Professor Vassilios Bebis
Meaning and Healing from Trauma | GEORGES V. FLOROVSKY
Fr. Georges Florovsky is considered by some to
|This course explores the ways in which the three dimensions of a be one of the most outstanding Eastern Ortho-
|human being (body, mind, and spirit) are affected by traumatic expe- dox theologian of the twentieth century. This
riences and how interventions in these three dimensions can help to course will offer an introduction to his theology.
It is designed to cultivate in students an under-
|overcome and to heal from the consequences of trauma. The course standing of his thought and familiarize them
|presents a meaning-centered approach and a somatic-psychological with some of the key themes in Fr. Florovsky’s
approach. The readings and the reflective questions are aimed to theology.

|help students produce a synthesis of both approaches for the benefit Eastern Orthodox Spirituality: An
|of those negatively affected by trauma. It explores the reasons why Introduction
a healthy brain is necessary to access historical sources of meaning; This e-tutorial views Eastern Orthodox spiri-
tuality not only as the systematic presentation
|how meaning centered interventions can include body expressions of certain ascetic teachings or the cultivation
and aid healthy human development. A meaningful response to | of certain techniques of prayer, but as new life
the tragic triad of human existence considers the full person, body, in Christ, the incarnate Logos of God. Eastern
Orthodox spirituality’s final goal is the theosis
|mind, and spirit. Recovering a sense of agency and the experience of (deification) of man/woman and his/her union
the freedom of will are necessary to develop a relationship with one- with God by grace.

|self, others, nature, and the transcendent. Relating meaningfully to
|oneself, others, the world, and the transcendent can help to complete
the healing process.

The Meaning of Love in Relationships |

|This course explores the life and work of Viktor E. Frankl as it relates
|to meaningful relationships. It reviews the anthropological founda-
tions of logotherapy and the human ability to personally relate to

|oneself, others, the world (nature) and the transcendent. Through re-
|flective questions, the student is invited to participate in a discovery
of the relational aspects of logotherapy and existential analysis. Love

|opens the paths to kindness, attention, valuing, respect, tolerance,
and support as the heartbeat of meaningful relationships. |

Well-being through Meaning |

With a focus on the phenomenological experience of the helping |
professional, this course offers an overview of the factors related to

|the experience of burnout and reviews relevant issues related to the
|prevalence, identification, and assessment of burnout. Factors related
to fostering resilience and the prevention of burnout are discussed
with special emphasis on the relevance of finding meaning to en- |

|hance coping and well-being. Practical meaning centered interven- 07

tions are presented and discussed.

Professor Tim Allen | Professor Janice Lundy
History of the Bible |
| Beyond the Traditional: Ministry with Un-
| affiliated, Spiritually Independent People
People in the pews and those who work in aca- |
demic and professional fields utilizing the Bible | The Pew Religious Landscape Survey of 2014
are generally not aware of the history behind | opened our eyes to the world’s rapidly changing
what can arguably be the most influential book | religious landscape. It informed us that a growing
ever printed. This tutorial will explore the rich | number of individuals were choosing to opt out of
history of the Bible, and, for PhD/ThD/PsyD | traditional religious forms and expressions, 23%
students, also explore an intriguing facet of the | of people surveyed, in fact. Today the number of
Bible: scripture as an art form. Why the Bible | those who claim to be religiously unaffiliated has
was written and then later translated was influ- | grown to 28%. As numbers continue to climb, not
enced by what was taking place in various time | just in the U.S., but worldwide, individuals are
periods throughout the Bible’s history. How we | finding new ways and forms through which to live
interpret it today should bear in mind the times | out their deepest beliefs and values.
that produced these ancient words that are still | This e-course will explore the world’s changing re-
alive today. | ligious landscape through an interfaith lens, deci-
| phering what these changes mean to all of us, and
President/CEO and Professor | to you specifically as a ministry professional. We
Paul Kirbas | will see how these developments are cross-cul-
| tural and inter-religious. With the help of current
Faith and Fear: An Interfaith Approach | ethnographic research, including that of Elizabeth
to Fearless Living | Drescher (Choosing Our Religion, 2016), Duane
We live in an age of fear. Many things contribute | Bidwell (When One Religion Isn’t Enough, 2019),
to this fear epidemic in our world, but the major | the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and
question is: How can we reduce fear and live lives | the Fetzer Foundation, we will gain insights into
free from the anxiety that often traps us. In this | the minds and hearts of those who identify them-
course, we will present that question to several | selves in new ways. We will go beyond the initial
religions to see if there is a common answer. This | identification of such individuals by the Pew
is a video-based course, in which students view | Survey as “Spiritual but Not Religious”, “None” or
video presentations by Dr. Kirbas and then write | “Unaffiliated” to acknowledge more current and
responses based on those videos. | expanded expressions used today, including being
| “Spiritually Independent”, “Multiply Religious”
| and “Spiritually Fluid.” We will explore what it
| means to have “complex religious bonds” and
“multiple belonging” in an era of globalism. Most
importantly, we will be invited to assess any biases
we may have toward others who are choosing to
identify themselves in new ways, thereby honor-
ing their unique call to live well and on purpose.

Check out the list of E-Tutorials on our website for a complete listing of all available courses!

New Additions to the GTF Library


GTF professor Dr. Jorge Colon also teaches at the Seminario Teológico de
Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Seminary wanted to create a Me-
dia Room in their library, and needed to find a home for nearly 500 books.
Knowing that GTF is in the process of building a new library, and that we
have a room dedicated to Latin American books, Dr. Colon inquired about
the possibility of donating books to GTF. Dr. Colon shares that experience:

“They were willing to donate as many books as
the institution wished, with the only condition
that someone would come and comb through the
books, select the ones they needed, put them in
boxes and ship them before Thanksgiving. Your
humble servant bought the cardboard boxes,
and spent two days weeding through the books.
I packed 10 bankers’ boxes with many Span-
ish books, and a few English ones as well. The
remaining books had to do with other areas of
knowledge not related to theology or pastoral
counseling. I did not count how many books I
packed, but I estimate it had to be more than 300. I
carried them to the postal office, under an unre-
lenting thunderstorm (maybe the original library
was angry!), and shipped them all to GTF’s head-
quarters. The librarian was very appreciative.”
We wish to thank the library of Seminario Teologica for offering these books to GTF, and we
want to especially thank Dr. Colon for all the effort he put into sending them to us. As an-
nounced in this newsletter, GTF is now partnering with the Mantanzas Theological Seminary
in Cuba in offering our new Latin American Doctor of Ministry program. The new Center for
Latin American Studies within the John Morgan Library at GTF will be a wonderful part of
our growing connection to the Latin American community.


EOLOGICAL Celebrating the Life of

Professor Angus Hawkins GTF is saddened to share the news that Professor
Angus Hawkins died unexpectedly in the final
days of 2020. As the Director of Internation-
al and Public Programmes at the Continuing
Education Department of Oxford University, Dr.
Hawkins was a longtime friend and colleague
of the Graduate Theological Foundation. He
worked with the leaders of GTF as we partnered
with the Oxford Theology Summer School
throughout the many years that we have been
involved with it. The Continuing Education De-
partment of Oxford University has shared these
words in memory of Professor Hawkins:

Professor Hawkins joined the Department in 1992 as Deputy Director, in charge of Interna-
tional Programmes. His large portfolio of summer schools and collaborative courses grew
over the years to also include programmes in Leadership and Public Policy, Diplomatic
Studies, and International Human Rights Law. He also developed a major new series of
programmes with Chinese partners. From 2010 he became Director of all of the Depart-
ment’s public-facing programmes of short courses, and award and degree programmes for
adult learners. Angus was ultimately responsible for overseeing more than 700 programmes,
enrolling more than 13,000 adult learners worldwide each year.
As Deputy Director in charge of Interna-
tional Programmes under Geoffrey Thomas
in the 1990s, Angus travelled extensively in
North America (and elsewhere) to visit part-
ner institutions and forge relationships with
new colleagues. Angus’s charm and relaxed
manner were essential to the success of these
We give thanks for the life of Professor An-
gus Hawkins, and we are deeply saddened
by his death.


Community Spotlight



The GTF would like to formally welcome | Congratulations to GTF Alumni concerning
these new students to GTF Programs: | recent accomplishments in their fields:
Dr. Shaik Mustaque Ahmed
Doctor of Philosophy
Rev. Maurice Mei Akwa | Dr. Antonia Arnold
| Doctor of Ministry, 2016
Doctor of Ministry
| • Dr. Arnold was recently select-
Rev. Imad Estiphan Al-Banna | ed to give the 2020 commence-
| ment speech at the Mechanical
Doctor of Education | and Aerospace Engineering
(MAE) Department at North
Rev. Janusz Bizewski | Caronlina State University. Dr.
| Arnold’s speech can be down-
Doctor of Ministry | loaded from the MAE website.

Mr. Philip G. Clingerman |

Doctor of Philosophy

Pastor Olleo Leville Cromwell | Dr. Laurence Aucella
Doctor of Ministry | Doctor of Philosophy, 2019

Deacon Brian Dwyer | • Dr. Aucella’s book, ‘Predicting
| Success in the Completion of the
Bachelor of Theology Rite of Christian Initiation of
| Adults’ was published this past
Mr. Rayappa Kancharla | March, through Dorrance Pub-
| lishers. It is available for purchase
Doctor of Philosophy
| from a wide varitey of Online
Rev. Valerie Y. Riley | stores.

Doctor of Psychology

Ms. Katherine Robinson |
| Dr. Eric Forster
Master of Pastoral Counseling | Doctor of Mediation, 2008

Mr. Walter Rodriguez Enciso | • Dr. Forster was recently appoint-
ed the United Nations arbitrator/
Master of Pastoral Counseling | mediator for intellectual property
| disputes.
Mr. David Odell Sherman |

Doctor of Sacred Music 11

2021 Graduation Plans


GTF Graduation: When??
As many of you recall, we had big plans for a homecoming Graduation cele-
bration in June of 2020. We had special speakers in place, a large reservation
of international and national faculty, alumni, students, and their families. Two
graduating classes, the class of 2019 and the class of 2020, were invited to walk
in the graduation exercise. But like so many other things, COVID19 intervened.
We had to cancel our 2020 homecoming graduation, with the hope that we
could hold our graduation in 2021, now to include three class years, 2019, 2020,
and 2021.
Although vaccines are now arriving, the experts are telling us that it will take
several months before life will return to “normal”. It seems very unlikely that
people will feel comfortable to travel in June of this year. But it may actually be
possible later in the year. Our current plan is “wait and see”. We will not hold a
graduation in June of 2021, but we may be able to hold one in the early fall of
this year. Please stay tuned!


The GraduateTheological Foundation (GTF) is a 501(c)(3)
not-for-profit educational institution.

GraduateTheological Foundation - 116 E Sheridan Ave,
Ste 207, Oklahoma City, OK 73104

800-423-5983 - 1-405-653-9410 - Fax: 1-405-653-9435

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