Richard and Julia Wilke began writing the DISCIPLE Bible study in the
mid-1980s, Richard had a specific number in his mind. If 20,000 persons
completed the study, he thought, it would be considered an overwhelming
Since the release of the four-part series in 1987,
DISCIPLE has been studied more than a million times, and has become
a worldwide movement. It is translated into several languages and is
in use in more than 30 denominations and almost 20 countries, including
China and Russia.
In honor of the Wilkes, the Institute for Discipleship
at Southwestern College was renamed the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute
Family, friends, and top dignitaries from United Methodist
publishing entities were on hand for the Sept. 13 event, including Robert
and Beverly Dockhorn, whose financial support has been instrumental
in the operation of the institute.
Participants at the dedication ceremony included Harriett
Olson, vice president of publishing for the United Methodist Publishing
House; Jerome Smith, director of communications of the SEJ Learning
Network; Paul Ervin, executive vice president for the Foundation for
Evangelism, and Nancy Kruh, author of The DISCIPLE Story. The Wilkes
grown children also participated—Steve Wilke (now vice president
for enrollment management at Southwestern), Paul Wilke, Sarah Wilke,
and Susan Wilke Fuquay.
The guests paid tribute to the Wilkes as visionaries
who have inspired Christians through Bible study on a level that leads
to personal commitment. Harriett Olson related that the study was used
in 5,000 United Methodist churches last year, and in 12,000 churches
of all denominations. But this doesn’t tell the whole story, Olson
“Disciple is really not primarily about numbers,”
Olson said. “Numbers are part of how we describe it, it’s
important for us to keep remembering the scale of Disciple, how big
it is, but it’s not primarily about numbers. In fact, Disciple
is about people. It’s about people who are able to study the Bible
in a new way, it’s about people who are committing to study the
Bible in ways they never thought possible for themselves, it’s
about people who are touched by God through the Bible in a new way and
moved on to new things in their lives.”
A Disciple participant from Georgia said “In
the beginning, Disciple for me was a Bible study. Now it’s something
I’m striving to become,” Olson related.
Institute for Discipleship provides educational opportunities for Christian
leaders (lay and clergy) for effective living and ministry, and expands
Southwestern’s mission with its specific focus on local church
Institute-supported activities have included building
on outreach ministry of SC students supporting local church worship;
special recruitment and financial support for rising church leaders
from other countries; offering rallies for teachers of the DISCIPLE
Bible study; coordinating internships in local churches for students
at Southwestern College; and providing opportunities for local pastors
to network or spend renewal time away from the local congregation.
On the horizon, the Institute plans to extend its impact
through greater use of the internet and personal networking. Focused
efforts are targeted at ministry preparation and continuing education,
enhancing youth ministries, strengthening worship experiences, and nurturing
students of DISCIPLE Bible Study.
During 30 years of pastoral ministry the Wilkes served
several United Methodist churches in Kansas, establishing a reputation
for revitalizing and expanding congregations. Dick Wilke was elected
bishop of the United Methodist Church and served in Arkansas until his
retirement in 1996. He now is bishop in residence at Southwestern College.
Both Dick and Julia remain active workshop leaders and speakers on issues
of church renewal.
Photos: (First) Julia and Richard Wilke. (Second)
Robert and Beverly Dockhorn accept thanks for their role in creating
Institute of Discipleship. (Third) Harriett Olson and Paul Ervin
greet Cheryl Rude, director of Leadership Southwestern.
a Web site launched in November,
now offers online resources for persons with interest in the DISCIPLE
Bible study. Tools on the site include user forums and chat, up-to-date
news, a Bible search function, and journals/blogs. BeADisciple.com
online community is a ministry of the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute
for Discipleship, the SEJ Office of Communications and Learning,
and the Foundation for Evangelism.
Learning: SC Online Targets Military
When Karen Pedersen looks at Fort Bragg,
N.C., she sees it differently from most people.
The average citizen sees 46,000 or so
soldiers, the “Home of the Airborne,” a force “trained
to deploy rapidly by air, sea and land anywhere in the world,”
(as proclaimed on its official Web site).
What Pedersen sees, though, is influenced
by her perspective as SC’s vice president for professional studies.
She sees potential Southwestern College learners.
“Fort Bragg is one of the largest
army bases in the world, and if only a small percentage of those soldiers
could complete their degrees through SC Online, this would be a major
jump in our enrollments,” Pedersen says.
Service members now are being actively
recruited to become students of the internet-based classes offered through
SC Online. Seven majors can be completed by learners entering with some
college credit. The six-week courses can be accessed via computer from
anywhere in the world.
This new emphasis on military learners
is one that came from two developments that occurred in the past year—the
approval of Southwestern College as an official eArmyU provider, and
the invitation for SC to become an on-base provider at McConnell Air
Force Base in Wichita.
“With both of these major events
happening at about the same time,” Pedersen explains, “it
made sense for us to look at this market more closely.”
Heather Kesterson, who had been a student advisor in the Wichita
West Professional Studies Center, moved with her family to Florida.
With Kesterson living in the South, Pedersen says, the division
of recruitment area became simple: Kesterson recruits in Florida,
Georgia, and Alabama. eArmyU tudent advisor Kevin Farlow is responsible
for Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Missouri, and Pedersen picks
up Arizona, southern California, Nevada, and Utah.
The representatives personally visit
military installations, meeting education service officers (ESOs)
and informing them of opportunities at Southwestern. Recruitment
material has been developed with this audience in mind, and the
materials are left for potential learners. SC Online also has
been touted in college catalogs aimed at military personnel.
As they visit with the ESOs, the
professional studies personnel have plenty to talk about—SC’s
military tuition discount, the possibility of college credit for
prior military schooling and education, progressive transfer policies,
ease of enrollment, etc.
“Because the military is reducing
the size of its force, they are looking for trained, educated
service members, so we are promoting education as a way of recruiting,”
Pedersen adds. “We talk about it as a way of retaining people,
because the military, like any company, wants to recruit and retain
For more information on programs
that might be of interest to military personnel, contact firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call (888) 684-5335, ext. 202.
reunited after 60 years
It had been six decades since the Stink
Pots last harmonized, but during homecoming 2003, the quartet
(formerly known as the Kappa Rho Quartet) broke into song
once more. All four were on campus for Moundbuilders in
left to right in both photos:
Bill Stankley '48 (first tenor),
Buddy Helm '46 (second tenor), Everett Samuelson '48 (baritone),
and Sidney Devere Brown '47 (bass)
SC Online is on the Web at www.sckans.edu/online.