Alumna Rev. Wilson to serve as visiting pastor March 10-14

Release Date: 2/24/2014

University of the Ozarks alumna Rev. Rita Wilson will return to her alma mater March 10-14 as part of the University's Pastoral Study Leave Program.

Rev. Rita Wilson

The Rev. Rita Wilson, a 1970 graduate of Ozarks, will be on campus March 10-14 for the Pastoral Study Leave Program

Rev. Wilson, a 1970 graduate of Ozarks, is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Yellville, Ark. During her visit to Ozarks, she will lead the University's weekly Chapel Service at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12, in Munger Chapel.

A native of Texas, Wilson was baptized and confirmed as a child of the covenant at First Presbyterian Church in Athens.  Her journey in ministry began early in her home church where she taught children, youth and women's Bible Study groups and counseled at summer church camp.  She graduated from Henderson County Junior College in Athens with an associate of science degree before transferring to University of the Ozarks where she earned a bachelor of arts in religion.
 
During her tenure as director of Christian education at Central Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith, she received her certification as an associate in Christian education in the PC (USA).  She went on to earn a master of divinity degree from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Okla.  Following her ordination as a minister in the PC (USA), she has served as pastor for congregations in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
 
Wilson has served on the Presbytery level of the PC (USA) through leadership training for children, youth and adults.   She has also provided leadership for the redevelopment of small church congregations.  She is currently the moderator of the Congregational Care and Development Committee of the Presbytery of Arkansas.

A special highlight from her years at University of the Ozarks was her involvement in the Ozark Area Mission program that placed students in mission points across the United States.  Her summer assignment was the youth center in Summit, Ark., sponsored by the National Board of Missions.  She lived that summer with the Presbyterian pastor's family in neighboring Yellville where she currently serves as pastor.

Rev. Wilson has a son and daughter-in-law, John and Jackie Mankin, as well as 7-year-old granddaughter Emaleigh.   Her grandson, Jayme Wooden, the son of her late step-daughter Marilyn Wilson Waldron, and his wife Erin have also blessed her with 3-year-old great granddaughter, Jailyn.  She enjoys reading, time with family and friends and drives through the beautiful Ozarks that she now calls home.

The Pastoral Study Leave Program was established in 2005 by the late Rev. Dr. James R. Struthers of Stillwater, Okla., a long-time member of the University's Board of Trustees. Struthers established the program to bring Presbyterian pastors to the U of O campus for personal and professional development. Rev. Wilson is the 17th visiting pastor to take part in the program.