Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars Program of Leadership and the Ministries of Sharp Chapel
Since the summer of 1999, the Presbyterian connection at the University of Tulsa has continued to experience tremendous growth. The foundational expression of this connection is found in the Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars (PLS) Program of Leadership.
From 1999 forward the Presbyterian presence at TU has grown from being virtually non-existent to a model of collegiate ministry recognized nation-wide. The core ministry from 1999 forward has been the Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars Program of Leadership. The program currently involves over 40-plus 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 at noon on Fridays for their PLS luncheon that centers on Christian devotionals and testimonies, presentations on Christian leadership, and instruction in the Reformed faith. In addition to ongoing participation 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.
Traditionally and historically, one of the hallmarks of a Presbyterian-related institution has been a 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 6 – 10 participants, WOW now attracts 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.
The ministries of Sharp Chapel also express this profound witness of the Reformed faith and the Presbyterian presence, particularly with the understanding of the Life of the Mind in the Service of God (John Leith). These ongoing ministries include Lunch with Calvin that meets every Monday at noon for lunch and a hearty discussion of the Reformed theology expressed in the writings of John Calvin. Since 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 (1536, 1541, 1559 editions). And, at Apologetics for Lunch which meets every Thursday at noon for lunch, participants engage the readings of Christian apologetic writers. Since beginning in 2008, students, staff and faculty have read writings by Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, Peter Kreeft, John Stott, G.K. Chesterton, John Lennox, and Eric Metaxis, among others.
Since the beginning of 2005, the Sharp Chapel Endowment has created and endowed numerous endowed scholarships with priority given to Presbyterian students – four Presidential Scholarships named after Robert C. Sharp and Josephine P. Sharp who had the vision to build and endow Sharp Chapel, four Trustee Scholarships, and five Provost Scholarships.
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 several of TU’s campus ministries and is the main entity through which our expansive variety of campus ministries related 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 numerous weddings, memorial services, baptisms, initiation ceremonies and music programs annually in its sanctuary.