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Dr. Derek HatchBROWNWOOD – July 23, 2018 – Writings on theology by Howard Payne University’s Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies, were recently released in two books. One book is a tribute to his mentor and prior professor that contains essays by Dr. Hatch and other scholars. The second book, written solely by Dr. Hatch, argues that Baptist theology should embrace the depth of the whole Christian tradition.

Dr. Hatch joined the HPU faculty in the fall of 2011 as part of the School of Christian Studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on subjects including the Bible, theology and Christian ethics. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Brownwood with their four young children and are members of First Baptist Church.

As a tribute, “Weaving the American Catholic Tapestry: Essays in Honor of William L. Portier,” was co-edited by Dr. Hatch and Timothy R. Gabrielli. It is a festschrift, which is an honorary book composed of a collection of essays to honor a particular scholar book 1toward the end of his or her career. Dr. Portier, the man whom the book honors, served as Dr. Hatch’s Ph.D. dissertation supervisor. He is a scholar of American Catholicism at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, and serves there as professor and the Mary Ann Spearin chair of Catholic theology.

“The title of the book comes from the symbolism of different strands woven together to make a single tapestry just as Dr. Portier wove together his  different interests and aspects of American Catholicism,” said Dr. Hatch.

The book, released in 2017, contains essays from 15 scholars who were colleagues, previous students and scholars who respected Dr. Portier’s work. It took four years to complete, from idea to print.

“It was definitely a labor of love and great way to show the love and deep respect that we all have for William Portier,” said Dr. Hatch.

Another book, “Thinking with the Church: Toward a Renewal of Baptist Theology,” was written exclusively by Dr. Hatch. It was released earlier this year through Cascade Books and is part of a series by the publisher called “Free Church, Catholic Tradition” written for Free Church Protestants, of book 2which Baptists are a part. The book series is designed to help people engage the wider Christian tradition. Reflecting biblically, theologically and liturgically on Jesus, the book offers tradition and catholicity as major themes.

“To take Jesus seriously is to take the whole tradition seriously, including all Christian thinking from the apostles forward,” said Dr. Hatch. “Baptists are an important part of that, but they only came on the scene in 1609 – a mere 400 years ago.

Because of this, he went on to say, as Baptists see themselves participating in the whole church, they find new light for understanding the Bible, the life of the church and questions of religious freedom.

Although this book began as his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Hatch said it turned out to be a more heavily revised version of his actual dissertation.

“Your audience tends to change when writing for a dissertation or for a book,” he said. “Also, an author’s thinking evolves over time in that he or she thinks of better ways to say things and learns more as time goes on.”

Dr. Hatch uses his love and study of theology not only to research topics for scholarship but also in his teaching so that his students will be a benefit to the church as a whole. He aims to recognize theology in the many facets of his life including parenting, teaching, research and writing.

“A theologian at his or her best is a theologian for the church,” he said. “My love of theology is not limited to only one area of my life. I don’t think I would be a good teacher or person if I wasn’t always writing and pushing myself in scholarly endeavors and research in theology.”

These and other books to which Dr. Hatch has contributed or written are available for purchase on For more information, contact Dr. Hatch at or 325-649-8135.


Cutline: Scholarly works by Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies at HPU, are featured in two recently published books.


 Dr. Wheelington grad class 2018BROWNWOOD – May 31, 2018 – Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies offers its majors the opportunity to complete either a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry or a Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry one year after completing an undergraduate degree.

Students who have completed 75 hours of classes and have a 3.0 GPA are eligible to apply for entry to the accelerated master’s program. In the accelerated program, students take 12 hours of graduate classes as a part of their undergraduate studies. These hours also count toward a 42-hour graduate degree.

Anna Lauren Jeffers is a graduate student in the program set to graduate in December 2018. She is currently serving at West University Baptist Church in Houston as the KidStuff preschool ministry director. Because of this position, she has been able to see how the program is benefiting her.

“I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to work towards my master’s degree while also being surrounded and supported by professors who cared about me as a student, a person and a minister,” said Jeffers. “I am able to be a better minister because of this investment.”

The accelerated master’s program was begun in 2012 to allow Christian studies majors to efficiently earn a graduate degree. At HPU, there is financial assistance available to graduate students in the School of Christian Studies.

“We offer a church match scholarship for grad students,” said Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of graduate programs in the School of Christian Studies. “If a church gives $100 per hour, HPU will match that.”

He added that there is an additional benefit for students of the accelerated program. Typically, graduate courses in the School of Christian Studies will include students who are currently serving as full-time ministers in churches.

“When you are in this accelerated program, you are in classes with our other grad students, so you begin to build this great network of fellow students,” said Dr. Gramling. “If you can make some lifelong friends in ministry, they will be a wonderful network of encouragement and support to you in the days to come.”

Another important feature is the focus of the Christian studies faculty, staff and students.

“This is the part in the journey where students get to come and be prepared for what it is God is calling them to do,” said Dr. Gramling. “We do not want you to major in Christian studies unless you sense God has put it in your heart to do that. That is a great thing for us though because we get to welcome in men and women who feel called by God to a certain ministry vocation.”

Jeffers noted the ways her classes in the accelerated program have taught her and encouraged growth.

“I learned valuable lessons in the classroom that challenged me to think deeper and grow in knowledge,” she said. “I also learned equally important lessons out of the classroom about serving and loving people by watching the professors at HPU embody their teaching.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Undergraduate students at HPU have the opportunity to take graduate courses through the accelerated Christian studies program.


Kaitlyn BushBROWNWOOD – May 30, 2018 – Kaitlyn Bush has long had a connection to Howard Payne University. The HPU senior, majoring in practical theology and minoring in music, said living just a few miles outside of Brownwood meant the university was a familiar feature throughout her early years.

She says her youth pastors, HPU alumni Dustin Wright ’12 and Seth Pitman ’11, MATM ’15, brought their students to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’s discipleship camp Super Summer at HPU. These trips were some of her early experiences at the university.

“While at Super Summer, I got to meet members of the Christian studies department who were helping,” she said. “It seemed like a really encouraging atmosphere.”

This encouraging atmosphere and the closeness of the HPU community, found in the relationships of faculty, staff and students, is a key part of what makes the university special in Bush’s eyes.

“I feel like everyone cares about everyone,” she said. “Where else are you going to see that?”

She has found the School of Christian Studies to be full of great people with meaningful experiences. The faculty’s familiarity with a variety of ministries imparts a unique value to the education that they offer their students.

“What our Christian studies faculty are teaching us is important on its own, but also a lot of it comes from their personal experiences,” she said. “What they have experienced is not going to be very different from what we are going through or will go through as ministers, so their knowledge is very helpful.”

When she first came to HPU, Bush knew God was leading her to pursue a life serving in music ministry.

“I came to HPU to become equipped for music ministry and decided I wanted to focus on the ministry aspect of this and study toward a major in the Christian Studies department,” she said. “However, because music is a part of my calling and also a passion of mine, I chose to minor in music.”

Bush is active in the HPU music department in addition to pursuing a life of ministry. In the fall, she plays the mellophone and marching horn while also serving as a drum major. During the spring concert season, she plays in HPU’s Symphonic Band.

Music has played a significant role in her life. While in high school, Bush said she benefited from her participation in her high school’s band. In addition to spurring personal growth, music brings her enjoyment even when practicing.

“In music, there are compositions from great composers who express feeling through music,” said Bush. “Knowing this and getting to play that expression is meaningful, especially when the expression aligns with your life and experience.”

Thanks to the faculty of HPU’s music department, she has been able to follow God’s leading in an atmosphere conducive to learning about a subject she loves.

“The professors in the music department are so talented and knowledgeable,” said Bush. “They care about our lives, not just about what we are playing, but what is going on in our personal lives.”

As she nears the final year of her time at HPU, Bush reflected on what the university has meant to her life.

“Hopefully when you leave these walls you are a reflection of what you are learning and a reflection of the God you serve,” she said. “The person I was when first arriving on campus two years ago is different than the person I am now. I am definitely shaping and forming as a person and it’s because of the people pouring into my life.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Kaitlyn Bush has chosen to follow the passions God has given her, pursuing a life in music ministry.


Jordan Pitman - HPU 2018BROWNWOOD – May 3, 2018 – As Jordan Pitman, Howard Payne University senior from Bangs, would attest, God cares deeply about the individual interests and desires of His children. In fact, Pitman, who will be among the graduates crossing the Commencement stage this Saturday, has already witnessed God planting passions in her heart and beginning to cultivate them for His purpose.

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to chase storms,” she said. “My favorite movie is ‘Twister’ and I watch it all the time. I knew that I wanted to study meteorology to help people understand weather patterns and to help keep them safe.”

God further clarified Pitman’s future career path through a mission opportunity in high school. While a student in the youth group at First Baptist Church of Gonzales, Pitman had her first experience with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists) BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery program. BOUNCE offers high school students the opportunity to assist communities in recovery efforts following natural disasters.

Pitman and others from her youth group traveled to Moore, Oklahoma, one year after a massive tornado ripped through the community, killing 24 people and leaving utter destruction in its wake.

“I was shocked to see how much help the community needed even after a year,” she said. “I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to come in and help after a real disaster like that.”

Though her plan from a young age had been to study weather patterns to forewarn individuals of impending storms, God used BOUNCE to show Pitman a new calling in life. Rather than chasing storms, she would be arriving in communities after disasters to serve people and help them rebuild their lives.

“It’s great that I don’t have to stray too far from a career that is related to meteorology,” she said. “It’s a blessing from God that He still uses my desires to fulfill His Kingdom work.”

Pitman, who had previously been applying to universities to study meteorology, changed her focus to ministry. Through prayer and research, God led her to HPU. She’s found HPU’s faculty and staff to be supportive spiritually as well as academically.

“I am able to tell my professors when my week has been rough and ask them for extra prayer,” she said. “I’ve also found the faculty and staff to be great resources as I continue my ministry work.”

In the summer of 2017, Pitman returned to BOUNCE as a member of the collegiate staff. She served as the communications/missions specialist as the team traveled to five relief locations in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. At each location, the collegiate staff of four individuals worked with a different group of high school students – around 600 in all – to provide relief and support to those in need.

“My job was to reach out to local media contacts to hopefully get them to cover the relief work we were doing in their communities,” she said. “I also promoted different future mission opportunities to the students at each location. I encourage other people to get involved, even if it’s not with BOUNCE. Through service to others, I was able to experience God in a new way by seeing how He is moving in people’s lives.”

At HPU, Pitman has continued to serve God by serving her classmates and her community. She is an active member of HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry, serving as a ministry co-leader as well as on the BSM State Lead Team. She is president of the Ministerial Alliance, which seeks to prepare men and women preparing for ministry; is a member of the Pi Theta Chi sorority; a member of HPU’s Gamma Beta Phi scholastic honor and educational-service organization; and a member of Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology students. She is also a member of Appointed, an organization that strives to encourage ministry-driven women. In addition to her work through BOUNCE, she has participated in mission opportunities through the BSM and Texas Baptists’ Go Now Missions.

HPU designated Pitman as a 2017 Currie-Strickland Scholar in Christian Ethics and Theology and Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary named her one of the 2018 Young Maston Scholars, an honor given each year to two students from each partnering Texas Baptist university. Additionally, Pitman was named a 2018 recipient of HPU’s Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award, given to selected HPU students in acknowledgement of their character and commitment to service honoring Jesus Christ. She was also recognized as an Outstanding Christian Studies Student during HPU’s spring Academic Awards Convocation.

A cross-cultural studies major in HPU’s Christian studies accelerated degree program – through which students can earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in as few as five years – Pitman will return to the HPU campus in the fall to complete her Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry degree.

Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s graduate programs in Christian studies, said, in his experience, it is unusual for a person so young to have such a defined sense of what God is calling her to be and do.

“Jordan’s love for missions, compassion for others, and thoughtful approach to service combine to make her a wonderful minister,” he said. “Since I have known her, Jordan has continually articulated a sense that God is calling her to help those in need, especially those who find themselves in need due to natural disasters or other emergency situations. Because of her gifts, experience, and genuine devotion to Christ, I believe God will use Jordan greatly in the days ahead.”

HPU’s Commencement will begin at 10:00 a.m. Saturday at the Brownwood Coliseum. For more information and a livestream of the event, visit

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Howard Payne University senior Jordan Pitman pursues her passion through God’s calling on her life.

HPU students named 2018 Young Maston Scholars by Logsdon Seminary

HPU 2018 Maston Scholars (McIlwain, Pitman)BROWNWOOD – April 3, 2018 – Howard Payne University students Cecily McIlwain, junior from Dayton, and Jordan Pitman, senior from Bangs, were among 16 Texas Baptist students recently honored as 2018 Young Maston Scholars by Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary. The awards were announced during the 18th annual T.B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics held at Logsdon Seminary on the HSU campus in Abilene.
Each year, officials from partnering Texas Baptist universities nominate two students from their universities to become Young Maston Scholars, an award recognizing outstanding undergraduate students for their interest in, engagement with and integration of Christian ethics. Nominations for the award are based upon a student’s demonstrated faithfulness to the ethical example of Christ; a commitment to Christian ethics lived out in theological inquiry and academic excellence; an established reputation among peers for ethical Christian leadership; and an articulated clarity in an occupational expression of ministry, though it is not required to be in a congregational setting.
“It was a privilege to be named a Young Maston Scholar,” said McIlwain. “I treasure this act of affirmation from my professors. The lectures and conversations with members of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Christian Life Commission were an encouragement to my heart.”
Pitman also offered thoughts on being selected as a Young Maston Scholar for 2018.
“I was surprised when I first found out I was chosen for this award,” said Pitman. “But I was also appreciative of the Christian studies faculty for pointing out a strength that I didn’t realize I had. At the lectures, I learned a lot about how to better love people and how Christ would love those same people.”
McIlwain majors in cross-cultural studies. Pitman majors in cross-cultural studies as well and minors in psychology. Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies, nominated the pair for the award.
“While nominating only two students each year is a tough task, Cecily and Jordan are excellent students who are worthy of this honor,” said Dr. Hatch. “Not only do they exemplify the criteria for selection, but they embody the essence of what it means to be a Young Maston Scholar. All of the Christian Studies faculty members consider it an honor to nominate them, and we look forward to what God will do in their lives going forward.”
For more information about Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies, visit or call 325-649-8403. More information about Logsdon Seminary at Hardin-Simmons University can be found at
Cutline: HPU students Cecily McIlwain, junior from Dayton, and Jordan Pitman, senior from Bangs, were named Young Maston Scholars during the 18th annual T.B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics held at Logsdon Seminary on the Hardin-Simmons campus in Abilene.

HPU hosts Currie-Strickland lectures, recognizes students in Christian ethics and theology

CS 2018 Award group 1BROWNWOOD – February 23, 2018 – Four Howard Payne University students were honored as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology at the university’s 11th annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics event earlier this month. Those honored include senior Emily Ball, business management and Bible double major from Midlothian; sophomore Kaitlyn Bush, Bible major from Brownwood; senior Garrett Ford, cross-cultural studies major from Monahans; and senior Julie Jo Yarbro, cross-cultural studies major from Odessa.

This lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston ’75 and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie ’75 and the memory of Phil Strickland. This year’s speaker for the lectures was Rev. Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Rev. Paynter previously served as director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission, the organization to which the late Phil Strickland dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry. At the recent lecture, Rev. Paynter’s theme was “Women’s Leadership, Global Mission, and Course Correction.”

Each year, Currie-Strickland scholars are selected by HPU Christian studies faculty and staff based on an evaluation of achievement in their classes and on the ways they have excelled in their thinking in the fields of Christian ethics and theology. This year’s honorees each received a certificate of their accomplishment and three books: “Do Justice, Love Mercy,” by Phil Strickland; “Songs in the Desert,” by David Currie; and “Ethics,” by James William McClendon, Jr.

Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies, presented the awards.

“We are very proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Dr. Hatch. “We have the privilege of teaching many exceptional HPU students and these four show serious dedication to the practice to critical reflection within the life of the church.”

The four students plan to pursue ministry-related goals after graduation. Ball plans to attend Truett Seminary in Waco to pursue dual Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration degrees. Bush said she feels led to pursue music ministry at this time. Ford plans to do mission work in central Asia and Yarbro currently serves as part of the youth ministry team at Brownwood’s Southside Baptist Church.

“It is our prayer that God will continue to encourage and guide these students in thought, word and deed as their vocations unfold in the future,” said Dr. Hatch.

For more information, please contact HPU’s School of Christian Studies at 325-649-8403 or visit HPU’s website at

Applications are being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University. HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Four HPU students were recently honored as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Pictured from left are Emily Ball, senior from Midlothian; Kaitlyn Bush, sophomore from Brownwood; Garrett Ford, senior from Monahans; Julie Jo Yarbro, senior from Odessa; and Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies.

HPU to host lecture on Baptist heritage and distinctives next Monday

Dr BebbingtonBROWNWOOD – October 24, 2017 – Howard Payne University will host guest speaker Dr. David Bebbington next Monday, October 30, for the William M. Pinson Jr. Lectures in Baptist Heritage and Distinctives. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

Dr. Bebbington, who serves as professor of history at the University of Stirling in Scotland, will deliver a lecture titled “William Carey: Pioneer in Missions.” The event is jointly hosted by HPU, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Heart of Texas Baptist Network.

Dr. Bebbington is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. An undergraduate at Jesus College of the University of Cambridge, he began his doctoral studies there before becoming a research fellow at Fitzwilliam College. Since 1976, he has taught at the University of Stirling and has served as professor of history since 1999. He has also taught at the University of Alabama, Regent College in Vancouver, Notre Dame University, the University of Pretoria in South Africa and Baylor University.

His principal research interests are in the history of politics, religion and society in Great Britain from the 18th to the 20th century, and in the history of the global evangelical movement. He is widely known for his definition of evangelicalism, referred to as the “Bebbington quadrilateral,” which was first provided in his 1989 classic study “Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s.”

Dr. Bebbington is a longtime member of Stirling Baptist Church where he has held various positions of leadership. He is also a regular lay preacher for churches affiliated to the Baptist Union of Scotland.

Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies at HPU, said it is an honor to have a scholar of Dr. Bebbington’s caliber on campus.

“I am excited that our students will get to interact with and learn from an expert on Baptist history,” she said.

In honor of Dr. Pinson’s significant service, the institutional ministries of the BGCT established the William M. Pinson Jr. Lectures in Baptist Heritage and Distinctives as well as an endowment fund to sustain them. Dr. Pinson, executive director emeritus of the BGCT executive board, served as executive director for 17 years prior to retiring in 2000. The lectures are held annually on the campus of one of the nine universities affiliated with the BGCT.

Dr. Don Fawcett, adjunct faculty in the School of Christian Studies at HPU, serves as network missionary for the Heart of Texas Baptist Network.

“We are honored to work with the Howard Payne University School of Christian Studies and the Baptist General Convention of Texas to host Dr. David Bebbington and this lecture on William Carey and his pioneering mission work,” he said. “This affords our local church leaders an opportunity to attend a relevant presentation offered by an accomplished scholar and churchman.”


Cutline: Dr. David Bebbington will speak at HPU next Monday for the William M. Pinson Jr. Lectures in Baptist Heritage and Distinctives.

HPU’s Dr. Gary Gramling speaks at Wednesday morning Chapel service

Gary Gramling ChapelBROWNWOOD – August 31, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Dr. Gary Gramling, 1981 HPU graduate, professor of Christian studies and director of the graduate programs in Christian studies, spoke at HPU’s Chapel service Wednesday morning.

“I can tell you that once you’ve had a personal encounter with Jesus, you’ll never be the same,” Dr. Gramling told audiences. “The Father wants nothing more than for every one of us, the people He made, to have a relationship with Him.”

The overall theme for HPU Chapel this semester is “Love God, Love Others.” To see the full slate of Chapel speakers, visit


Cutline: Dr. Gary Gramling speaks at HPU’s Chapel service Wednesday morning.

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