U of O introduces visiting pastor program

Release Date: 12/15/2005

Clarksville, Ark. (December 15, 2005)--- The Rev. Dr. Jim Struthers of Stillwater, Okla., has established a new program that will bring Presbyterian pastors to University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark., for personal and professional development as well as to interact with the campus community.

The James R. Struthers Pastoral Study Leave Fellowship was started during the Fall 2005 Semester through an endowment from Struthers, a retired Presbyterian pastor and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. Struthers developed the program to provide study-leave time for pastors and to build a stronger connection between the university and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Under the program, a different pastor would visit Ozarks for four or five days each semester and have the opportunity to interact with students, faculty and staff through classroom lectures, seminars and presentations, as well as less formal situations such as study groups, meals and fellowship. In addition, the visiting pastor might preside over one of the university’s weekly Chapel worship services. There would also be personal study time for the pastor.

The Struthers Fellowship covers the visiting pastors’ travel expenses, provides for meals and lodging, and provides office space in the university’s Robson Library.

The first visiting pastor in the program was The Rev. Dr. James D. Miller, who visited the campus in mid-November. Miller, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, has been pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa since 1992.

“We wanted this to be an educational and renewal opportunity for pastors, but it also provides a way to make pastors aware of what is going on at the university,” Struthers said. “We want to make the connection between the Presbyterian Church and the university stronger. Pastors who come to Ozarks can go back to their churches and let people know about the great things going on at Ozarks, and that can help in financial support for the university and in recruiting prospective students. I feel like both the university and the church can benefit from this program.”
Struthers, who was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Ozarks in 1969, served as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater until his retirement in 1989. He was the Executive Presbyter of the Cimarron Presbytery from 1990-2000.