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Posted: January 20, 2011 10:23 p.m.

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Oral Roberts president a father in Christ

Oral Roberts University President Dr. Mark Rutland to speak

Oral Roberts University President Dr. Mark Rutland will speak at Prospect United Methodist Church in Covington on Sunday.

Rutland, who is also founder and president of Global Servants, an evangelistic and missionary organization, will be at the 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 7 p.m. services.

He is a former Covington resident and member of Prospect and has maintained a friendship with longtime pastor Lawrence Lockett, and mentored Prospect’s current pastor, Ronny Brannen.

Rutland served as Brannen’s youth minister and associate pastor. His wife, Alison, also taught Sunday School at Prospect during their time in Covington. Brannen and Lockett both serve on the board of Global Servants.

"Dr. Rutland is like a best friend and father in Christ to me," said Brannen. "We go way back, with nearly 40 years of history together. Having him speak here is like having him come home."

A Texas native, Rutland holds degrees from the University of Maryland and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He earned his doctorate from the California Graduate School of Theology. He pastored at several churches before assuming the presidency of Oral Roberts University. He is the first president of the university who is not a member of the Roberts family.

Rutland founded Global Servants in 1977. Global Servants has performed outreach projects in Ghana and Thailand, and the Rutlands have staged seminars throughout the world through the ministry. The organization has planted churches throughout Ghana, including one funded by and named after Prospect United Methodist Church. Global Servants opened the House of Grace girls’ home in Chiang Rai, Thailand, which now houses more than 100 girls.

Rutland is the author of 13 books, including, "Launch Out into the Deep," "The Finger of God," "Hanging by a Thread," "Behind the Glittering Mask," "Streams of Mercy," "God of the Valleys," "Nevertheless," "Dream," and "Character Matters." His latest book is "Most Likely to Succeed."

Rutland and his wife, Alison, have been married for 43 years. They have two sons and a daughter, all of whom are involved in the ministry of Global Servants. They also have six grandchildren.

Brannen says that Rutland will share whatever the Holy Spirit lays on his heart at the services. The church did not ask him to speak on a specific topic, but Brannen is tying Rutland’s appearance in with the church’s vision for the new year.

"We’re praying that people will have changed lives after hearing Dr. Rutland speak, and we hope that people will be stirred to a greater passion," said Brannen. "We’re doing several special things throughout the year to ignite the church’s passion for serving and loving God and reaching out to others."

The two morning services will have different music and worship styles. A men’s singing group from Oral Roberts University will sing and share all the music at the evening service.

The church will take up a love offering at the evening service to benefit Global Servants.

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