Jonathan Soder, Faith Co-Editor (Photo by Jonathan Soder/The Bison)
Come fall 2018, associate professor of applied ministry Dr. Scott Pace won’t be found in the northwest corner office of Montgomery Hall anymore. Instead, he will be found teaching at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
“I’ll be the associate professor of preaching and pastoral ministry. I’ll be the director of the Hunt Scholars program, and then I’ll be the associate director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Ministry,” Pace said. “So three hats if you will.”
Before coming to OBU in December 2009, Pace was a pastor in Florida. Not intending to prepare himself for a professorial position, he obtained his Ph.D. in applied ministry “to be the best-equipped pastor [he] could be.”
However, when OBU contacted Pace about a professorship, he viewed it as a chance to demonstrate good “stewardship” of his ministry.
“I left local church ministry to come here to multiply into local churches on a broader level,” Pace said.
In his time here, he has helped make “great strides” in the development and reformation of OBU’s ministry and missions degrees. Pace has also contributed several volumes to the Hobbs College Library – a collection of short theological digests. But, he said his favorite contribution to OBU has been guiding his students.
“Being able to be here long enough to see students be placed into various roles or ministries and see how God’s using them since they’ve left or graduated, and knowing that I had a piece or a part in that, is the most gratifying and rewarding thing,” Pace said.
One such former student is OBU’s very own director of student ministry, Clay Phillips. As an undergraduate, Phillips spent lots of time with Pace both in and out of class.
“He’s, to me, a perfect example of pastor-theologian,” Phillips said. “As a professor, he pushed me in the classroom but also outside the classroom. It was clear that teaching wasn’t a job, it was a calling, and he viewed it as discipleship.”
Phillips feels that Pace’s mentorship “shaped [him] greatly.” In particular, Phillips said he learned the importance of balancing family and ministry, which Pace continues to demonstrate as he prepares his family to move to North Carolina this summer.
Pace’s two youngest children were born in Oklahoma, and the older two remember little from their time in Florida.
“OBU has been home to our children,” Pace said.
During their time in Oklahoma, Pace and his family have put down roots through sports, school, and the local school board. Moving to Southeastern, for Pace, is an opportunity to show his two older children especially what it looks like to make difficult choices as they follow God and grow in their faith.
Pace said he feels that ultimately, despite the life his family has built in Shawnee, moving to Southeastern is once again an opportunity “for greater kingdom impact.”
He also said, “We’ve got a real sense of God’s leading through a variety of factors – the timing in the life of our family, with the age of our kids, [also] all of our extended family is in South Carolina.”
Pace anticipates that one of the largest differences between OBU and Southeastern will be his relationship with the students. While he will be teaching similar classes, many master’s students are beyond the “formative season of life” which undergraduates at OBU often find themselves experiencing.
“In large part, the students at Southeastern will already be further along in that journey,” Pace said. “They’ve already got established ministries or families. [But] the relationships I’ve been able to build with students – to mentor them, pour into them – has been extremely rewarding and gratifying. That’s what we’ll miss most for sure.”
After finishing up this May, Pace hopes to remain in contact with OBU by teaching master’s classes.“You know, as the saying says, ‘The sun never sets on Bison Hill,’” Pace said. “I’m going to hopefully be part of that. I’ll just be a member of the OBU family serving somewhere else.”