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Theological Education and the Gifts of Grace

Rev. Phil Hamner (‘95)
Senior Pastor, Overland Park (KS) Church of the Nazarene
NTS Alumni Council, MNU Region Member-at-Large

My journey to full time Christian ministry began in the back pew of a church in Austin, Texas.  It came to life when a pastor mentor looked at me, and said these words, “Phil, you have a call to preach, and you won’t be happy until you follow it.”  So, within two years of that revelatory statement, my wife and I packed our bags and headed to Nazarene Theological Seminary.

This was a career change for me, as I was headed into the diplomatic service in Latin America.  I was a relatively new Nazarene, but I had been birthed in the church; raised in the church; educated by the church.  It just was not the Church of the Nazarene.  Since joining first Nazarene congregation I had been welcomed warmly, but some had encouraged me to forget my past life in another church.

I arrived at NTS with a heart wide open for God and his church.  I was embraced by students and faculty who were ready for the same.  My first class was with Paul Bassett, The History of Christian Thought I.  At 8:00am, four days a week, I discovered the heart of the Spirit’s work to guide and direct the church into all truth.  Dr. Bassett taught me to love the church deeply, and to love the gifts of grace at work in and through her. 

Over the next three years people like Rob Staples, Alex Deasley, Roger Hahn, Harold Raser, Al Truesdale, among many others, became embodiments of grace and expressions of intellectual challenge.  Daily my mind and heart was formed to celebrate the enormous gifts of God offered in and through the ministry of the church.  I made lifelong friends who both challenge my intellectual integrity and my devotion to Christ.  I am sustained daily by the formation I received at NTS through the power of the Spirit.

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