Since the summer of 1999, the Presbyterian connection has continued to experience tremendous growth. The expression of this Presbyterian connection is found in the ongoing development of the Presbyterian campus ministry at The University of Tulsa, formally known as UKIRK.
From 1999 forward Presbyterian focused campus ministry at TU has grown from being virtually non-existent to a model of collegiate ministry that is being emulated nation-wide by the larger Presbyterian Church (USA). The core ministry from 1999 forward which is now a part of the larger UKIRK Ministries has been the Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars Program of Leadership and its related Presbyterian Leadership Scholarship, a scholarship up to $6,000 per year for four years. The program now involves over 50 students a year, intentionally focusing on identifying the best and the brightest of our Presbyterian students and grounding them in the Reformed tradition for future leadership in the Presbyterian church. The Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars meet weekly for the Friday UKIRK luncheon that centers on Christian devotionals, Christian leadership nuggets, tenets of the reformed faith, worship and opportunities for Christ-centered mission and service. In addition to taking active leadership roles as a part of the Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars program, active participants are eligible once during their undergraduate work at TU to take part in a biennial Scotland Heritage Tour which introduces these future Presbyterian leaders to the important and critical history of the Presbyterian church of Scotland. The Scotland trip is significantly underwritten by the Sharp Chapel Endowment.
Other UKIRK ministry endeavors include Lunch with Calvin that meets every Monday at noon for lunch and a hearty discussion of the writings of John Calvin. Beginning the fall of 2006, students have read from Calvin’s Pastoral Writings, and topically in his Instructions in Faith, and the Institutes of Christian Religion. And, Apologetics for lunch wich meets every Thursday at noon for lunch and engaging reading of Christian Apologetics writers. Since beginnig in 2008, students, staff and faculty have read writting by C.S. Lewis, Alisten McGratt, Peter Kreeft, John Stoff and Tim Keller.
Additional constituent components of Presbyterian Campus ministy includes UKIRK Presbyterian Collegiate Ministry, a congregational based campus ministry of First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa in partnership with Sharp Chapel. The partnership between The University of Tulsa and First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa goes back to the earliest roots of The University of Tulsa in Tulsa, then called Kendall College. The first classes of Kendall College in Tulsa were held on the grounds of First Presbyterian Church. The reality of this partnership between the congregational based collegiate ministry of First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa and the existent Presbyterian campus ministry of The University of Tulsa through Sharp Memorial Chapel came to fruition in 2006 when First Presbyterian Church chose to designate a portion of the ministry purview of their Associate Pastor for Next Generation Ministry to on-site campus ministry here in Sharp Chapel. This visionary decision has caused the UKIRK ministry at TU to grow and develop programs tied both to First Presbyterian Church and Sharp Chapel such as evening core-group Bible-studies for freshman women, freshman men, and coed upper-classmen most of which are led using a peer-leader model; a Thursday evening student-led Praise and Worship service called UKIRK Large Group Worship; a variety of additional Fellowship opportunities, and the Friday UKIRK luncheon.
Traditionally and historically, one of the hallmarks of a Presbyterian-related institution has been weekly chapel for students, staff and adults. In the spring of 2002, a voluntary weekly chapel service was reintroduced to campus. Meeting on Wednesdays at noon during the spring and fall semesters, WOW (Worship on Wednesday) – a Christian-particular Praise and Worship service has become an integral part of the life of many on TU’s campus. From its fledgling beginnings of 10 – 15 participants, WOW now involves between 120 to 130 students, staff and faculty every week. Following the 30-minute weekly service, a lunch is served for all participants and is provided by the Sharp Chapel Endowment.
Since the beginning of 2005, the Sharp Chapel Endowment has also created four Presidential Scholarships with priority given to Presbyterian students named after Robert C. Sharp and Josephine P. Sharp who had the vision to build and endow Sharp Chapel and four Trustee Scholarships with priority given to Presbyterian students, one named after Jo Buford Siegfried, the great-granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sharp, and five Provost Scholarships in the names of Robert C. Sharp and Josephine P. Sharp.
From January 2005 and forward, Sharp Chapel has exploded with daily and evening activity. The Chapel currently welcomes between 500 to 600 students, staff and faculty a week through its doors. It serves as a weekly meeting place for seven of TU’s campus ministries and is the main entity through which our 24 campus ministries relate to The University of Tulsa. Also, bearing in mind the Biblical expression of hospitality, the chapel hosts numerous university and community related meetings and gatherings. Finally, as an additional expression of its Presbyterian-relatedness, Sharp Chapel hosts nearly 40 weddings annually in its sanctuary.