Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “milestone” as a significant point in development. 2017 indeed marks a milestone in the life of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation as we celebrate ten years of supporting seminary students through your gifts. While reaching this milestone calls for a time of thanksgiving, it also calls for a time of renewed focus on our ultimate mission: to provide full financial support for our seminary students in the years to come. Reflecting on the 2007 beginnings of the foundation, Dr. Karl Stegall, volunteer president, says “I will be forever grateful to the members of First United Methodist Church of Montgomery for honoring Brenda and me upon my retirement by giving $1,675,000 to create our Scholarship Foundation. That initial gift enabled us to begin immediately making a difference in the lives of our seminary students and their respective families.” The foundation began among a time of economic recession in the U.S. Yet, the foundation donors continually expressed in word and deed their belief that supporting seminary students was a worthy cause. “During this time, I was reminded of the words of Hubert Taylor, who said ‘God’s things done in God’s way will not go lacking for God’s support,’” says Stegall. At its beginning, the foundation awarded each seminary student an annual minimum of $1,000. Over the past ten years, the award has increased incrementally to today reach an annual minimum of $10,000 for each full-time student. In 2016, the Foundation reached its initial goal of raising $5 million, and in April 2017 surpassed $6 million in assets. “While we celebrate each of these milestones, we have become increasingly aware that our funds are not yet sufficient to cover all of the financial needs of our seminary students, which today number almost 50,” says Stegall. [caption id="attachment_2351" align="alignright" width="240"] Rev. Emily Kincaid[/caption] One of those students was Rev. Emily Kincaid, who presently serves as the Executive Minister at Orange Beach (Ala.) UMC. “Words cannot express how grateful I am for the support I received from the Stegall Foundation,” says Kincaid. “To know that so many people were praying for me and cared enough to support me financially through seminary made all the difference. In retirement, the Stegalls have chosen to continue ministry, making an eternal impact for the Kingdom of God by equipping pastors for churches for decades to come. What a gift to the church!”
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary and in response to the continued need of seminary students, the foundation’s Board of Directors has now adopted a goal of raising $10 million in cash and pledges within the next 12 months. “If we can reach this goal, we can envision the day when we will be able to pay in full the costs of seminary for so many of our seminary students and their families that struggle financially,” says Stegall. One of the board members leading the charge toward the $10 million goal is Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon, Senior Minister of First United Methodist Church of Montgomery. “It is an honor to be associated with the foundation, both as a former recipient of the Faith Promise program that preceded the establishment of the foundation, and as a current board member,” says Pridgeon. [caption id="attachment_1876" align="alignright" width="300"] Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon[/caption] “Having served as a District Superintendent, I have witnessed firsthand the challenges facing our candidates as they struggle to meet the requirements for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. The support these students receive from the foundation is critical in helping them begin their ministry with a more secure financial footing. I am excited about the possibilities for the future, for our candidates and for the church, as the Stegall Foundation board works diligently to increase the support available to those who desire to answer God's call to serve the churches of the Alabama- West Florida Conference.”
The Foundation owes a deep well of gratitude to the donors who over the last ten years have turned a vision into reality. Now, the board invites the donors to partner with them to take the next step in supporting our seminary students. “Just as Bishop Paul Duffey prophesied that he could envision, without any reservations, the day when we would reach our initial goal of $5 million, I now envision the time in the not too distant future when we reach our next goal of $10 million,” says Stegall. “I never shall forget reading about what happened on the day the dedication and opening of Disney World was held,” says Stegall. “ The emcee said, ‘It is sad that Walt Disney never lived to experience this moment and see the opening of this beautiful Disney World.’ The speaker said, ‘Walt Disney did see it! He saw it in his dreams!’” With God’s grace and the prayerful support of faithful donors, dreams like those of the Stegall Foundation do turn into reality.