$1.7 million gift funds OC preaching chair

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Benton and Paula Baugh have pledged $1.7 million to establish an endowed chair in the College of Biblical Studies at Oklahoma Christian University (OC).

President John deSteiguer announced the Benton and Paula Baugh Chair of Gospel Preaching at OC’s Tuesday Chapel service and at an on-campus luncheon for preachers.

“OC has a long history of preparing effective preachers. OC alumni are doing great work in congregations of all sizes, including some of the largest churches across America,” deSteiguer said. “But we need to prepare more preachers who can help bring people to Christ, and Benton and Paula are making that possible. They have a passion for evangelism, ministry and preaching. We’re grateful for this generous gift that will bless Oklahoma Christian and our students. We pray God uses it to bless the world.”

The Baughs are active members at Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, Texas, where Benton is a deacon and OC alumnus and trustee David Duncan is the pulpit minister.

Benton Baugh has more than 50 years of experience in oilfield and subsea systems. He is active in management, design and consulting, and has received more than 100 U.S. patents. Because of his expertise, he was called to testify before a hearing with the House Committee on Science and Technology following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Baugh founded Radoil, Inc., and served as its president until recently selling the company. He is a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, his alma mater, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

His Christian service includes helping develop the Spring Branch Iglesia de Cristo and serving as co-chairman for the 2012 Day of Good Works, an initiative of Houston-area churches of Christ.

Paula Baugh is actively involved with Impact Houston Church of Christ, serving hungry, hurting and homeless people through that inner-city congregation.

“We have been very impressed with the warmth and friendliness of OC, and with the fact that Oklahoma Christian is committed to biblical teaching amidst the challenges in our culture,” Benton Baugh said. “We want to help equip preachers with the latest methods of delivering the Gospel. Half of the battle is getting a church going, and the other half is sustaining it when it’s there. This is about addressing both parts of the puzzle.”

The Benton and Paula Baugh Chair of Gospel Preaching will allow Oklahoma Christian to add a faculty member who will specialize in preparing preachers. This new faculty member will be an experienced preacher with strong academic training who will recruit, train, teach and mentor future preachers.

The endowment also will help Oklahoma Christian offer seminars for pulpit ministers on topics they need to thrive in their roles.

In addition to this new endowment, Oklahoma Christian offers a preaching major and preaching scholarships ranging from half-tuition to full tuition.

“Oklahoma Christian produces ministry-minded graduates who are making a difference in the world. But the number of young men going into pulpit ministry is dwindling,” Distinguished Professor of Bible Dr. Stafford North said. “We need to inspire and train more students to become preachers. We need to prepare men to go into all the world and preach the gospel so that God’s people may become thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This is the fifth seven-figure gift Oklahoma Christian has received in the past year.

In June, Mo and Richard Anderson of Austin, Texas, presented a $1 million gift to fund the Anderson Endowment for Academic Excellence in Athletics. In July, 1992 OC alumnus Ricky Lawson and his wife Kelly provided the anchor gift for a new softball stadium, Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza.

In August, Jill and Cary Brown of Midland, Texas, gave Oklahoma Christian $1 million to fund student scholarships and construct the Terry and Marty Johnson Administrative Suite in OC’s historic Benson Hall. In November, Oklahoma Christian dedicated a newly-purchased facility for its European Studies program in Vienna, Austria, made possible by an anonymous $1 million gift.

Oklahoma Christian, recognized as one of the best universities in the western United States by U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton Review, offers undergraduate programs in more than 60 fields of study, an undergraduate Honors Program, and graduate programs in business, engineering, ministry, and divinity.

In addition to its Oklahoma City residential campus, OC has study abroad opportunities in Europe, Honduras and the Pacific Rim. More than 1,100 undergraduate students are involved in ongoing service and ministry opportunities.

The last eight years have featured OC’s eight highest total enrollments ever, including a record 2,271 total students this year.