by Rhett Butler, Duke Divinity School, third-year student [caption id="attachment_2017" align="alignright" width="300"]Rhett Butler with Fiancée Heather Jones and Obi. Rhett Butler with Fiancée Heather Jones and Obi.[/caption] God has led me all of the way from Eclectic, Alabama to Durham, North Carolina where I have spent three wonderful years attending Duke Divinity School. I am preparing to graduate in May and eagerly look forward to serving the people of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. My time in seminary has shaped me into the man that God would have me to be. I would not have experienced this time of transformation if it had not been for the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation. I can hardly call the Stegall Foundation a “scholarship.” To do so would ignore so much good work that God is doing through the loyal donors to the Foundation. Scholarships pay for tuition and books, but the Stegall Foundation is also an expression of faith and love in the continuation of God’s Church.
Each quarter of my seminary journey, I have faithfully received a generous check from the Foundation. Each check quieted my rattled nerves that worried about paying the power bill. It freed me from the bondage of crippling debt. It reminded me that I was not alone in a distant land, but that I had a loving family caring for me more than nine hours away. In addition to helping pay for tuition and books, it also paid for an occasional movie where I could sink into a bucket of popcorn and rest from my studies. For seminarians like me, this scholarship does not merely offer financial help. It offers the direct love, support, and faithfulness of the body of Christ. The church, as I understand it from the Book of Acts, is not a stationary people. We grow by following God’s call wherever it may lead us, bringing everyone we can into the waters of baptism and new life. The price of a seminary education is higher than ever before, and if God continues to call individuals like me----and I am sure God will--- future seminary students may not be able to afford the vital education that will form the next generation of United Methodist pastors. Thankfully, the Stegall Scholarship Foundation through its generous donors is committed to growing the church and continuing to raise up educated pastors for the future. God has been so good to me and blessed my life in so many ways. I am now engaged to Heather Jones, who, also, is a graduate of Huntingdon. We will be getting married in Dothan on May 21. Over the past three years, my dog, Obi (short for Obadiah), has been a constant companion, relieving lots of stress from my studies. We have taken over 200 hikes together on weekends, and he has listened to lots of my sermons I preached to him in preparation for preaching the same sermon in my homiletics class. I will be forever grateful for what the Stegall Scholarship Foundation has meant in my life!