Luther Oconer Spotlight
Assistant Professor of United Methodist Studies
Director of the Center for Evangelical United Brethren Heritage
1 | What Do You Like Most about Teaching at United?
It has been more than a decade since I finally yielded to the nudging of the Holy Spirit leading me to do the unthinkable — leave a budding career in the then-emerging telecommunications industry in the Philippines and enter this exciting path to ordained ministry!
This path has since led me to serve as pastor in a number of churches, study in seminary and graduate school and eventually teach here at United. But at United I come full circle as I begin to hear the stories and read the spiritual autobiographies of our students, being reminded again of the day I responded to God’s call. Whether they have started early in ministry, or whether they have left secular careers or taken a bi-vocational route, I realize we have so much in common. We all share in the same call. This is why I love teaching here at United, for it is a seminary that affirms and embraces the sacredness of the call. I am extremely pleased to say that this is not just an institution that promotes higher learning, but more so a community that answers to a higher calling. This is so much ingrained in what both faculty and staff endeavor to accomplish here. There is an intentionality to train students not only for the work of ministry but also as agents of renewal in the Church.
2 | Tell Us about A Significant Project You’ve Worked on Outside of Teaching for United.
Since I joined United a few months ago, I haven’t really completed any significant projects outside of United yet, except to be able to reach out to Methodist theological education in the Philippines. United has fully supported me in this endeavor by allowing me to teach an online United Methodist history course and by making United Online, our very own online education system, accessible to my students there. Also, I have begun the process of writing a book, which I hope would be a faithful retelling of the history of Methodism in the Philippines.
3 | Any Advice for Current and Incoming Students?
My advice to students leads me back to my earlier point: Do not forget your calling! The rigors of theological education sometimes have the unintended effect of distracting us and, worse, making us forget of why we are in seminary in the first place. Remember that you are here because at some point in your life you have made the conscious decision to say, "Here I am Lord, send me!" May you always continue to honor that as you journey and learn with us here at United.