[caption id="attachment_1635" align="alignright" width="231"]2014 Summer Brochure The faces of our new Seminary Students, 2014.[/caption] While serving as a pastor, I always felt that good people called United Methodists “give as they understand,” and that is the reason that I want to share with you why it is important for us to give in support of our seminary students. The future of the 621 churches of our Alabama-West Florida Conference will depend, to a large degree, upon the strength of our clergy leadership. We will always have a great need to raise up in our midst effective young men and women to lead us in our church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. When young men and women from our Conference answer the call of God upon their lives and plan to enter seminary, they are faced with the reality that we do not have a main campus in either Alabama or Florida. These seminary students have to go out of state in order to live and study on a main campus. They also discover that the estimated costs of attending Emory, Duke, or Asbury as a full-time student living on campus is a little over $40,000 a year or $120,000 over three years. It is little wonder that many of our seminary students down through the years have graduated with accumulated loans from four years of college and three years of seminary that totaled nearly $100,000. Some of these same seminary students and their spouses have as many as four children. Your gifts to our seminary scholarship foundation have made a significant difference over the past seven years. In 2007, we were giving a minimum of $1,000 in a cash scholarship to each full-time seminary student. Today in 2014, we are giving a minimum of $10,000 in a cash scholarship to each full time student. The more you give, the more our seminary students receive! Let it be known loudly and clearly that these are OUR seminary students and products of OUR churches. Before entering seminary, they have been recommended by OUR pastor-parish committees and affirmed by OUR charge conferences. They will return to OUR Alabama-West Florida Conference, preach from OUR pulpits, provide pastoral care for OUR families, baptize OUR BABIES, confirm OUR YOUTH, officiate at OUR weddings, and offer words of comfort to OUR loved ones. We must not let them down! Your gifts, whether large or small, will make a significant difference! -Karl K. Stegall