English professor follows dream to ministry

July 12, 2013 Feature Print Print
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OCCC English Professor Chris Verschage’s eight-year journey to become an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God was finally completed April 30.

Verschage said he, along with 36 other men and women, were ordained to be ministers in a ceremony at The Assembly church in Broken Arrow, near Tulsa.

He said he completed his studies through Global University in Springfield, Mo., taking online courses in the Berean School of the Bible program. The course consisted of three levels and a total of 32 classes, Verschage said.

Assemblies of God, like the Church of God, is a protestant Pentecostal denomination of faith. Assemblies of God is far less conservative than the Church of God, Verschage said.

For instance, he said, the Assemblies of God are more relaxed when it comes to the way their female members are allowed to dress or wear makeup.

Growing up in Lansing Mich., Verschage’s family had been members of the Church of God before switching to the Assemblies of God when he was 12.

Verschage said he believes the entire text of the Bible is as relevant for today as it was when it was written. Having also studied Judaism in his early 20s, Verschage refers to himself as “a Pentecostal with Messianic leanings.”

Verschage said he was motivated to pursue ordination because “Christ has always been a central part of my life.”

He credits his parents as well as his grandmother, great-grandmother and several pastors he has studied under, as being strong influences.

Verschage said, while some people may find the Bible to be boring, for him, it is exhilarating and interesting.

Starting in the fall semester, Verschage will teach a comparative religions class. He said he enjoys the history and culture that goes with the subject.

Being a teacher is sometimes at odds with his role as a preacher, Verschage said.

“Teaching college, we are expected to keep our faith out [of the classroom].”

He said he doesn’t say what he would like to say when faced with an opposing view from his students, either in the classroom or in a paper they have written for him to grade.

“I can’t base grading on what I think and I believe,” Verschage said. “It’s strictly based on how well the students do the work.”

Verschage said his future plans may include going into the ministry full time and cutting his teaching duties back to a part time basis.

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