Regional Banquets introduce the Stegall Foundation to new supporters

Enjoying learning more about the Stegall Foundation during the Dothan regional banquet are (L-R) Mrs. Terri Turner, Dr. Shirley Woodie, and Rev. Misty Barrett. Additional photos of the regional banquets may be found here.

May 20, 2018 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “movement” as “a series of organized activities working toward an objective.” In this spirit, the movement known as the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation is sharing its message across the Alabama - West Florida Conference by inviting others to join our efforts to support seminary students. The foundation’s board of directors recently began holding regional banquets in addition to the annual Dinner of Celebration, held each August in Montgomery. Three banquets have been held in 2018: Opelika, Ala. (March 1); Panama City, Fla. (April 26); and Pensacola, Fla. (May 14). Banquets are also scheduled in May for Dothan, Ala. and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Each banquet is organized by a group of clergy and lay supporters, and has a distinctive regional feel. The first regional banquet, held in Opelika, featured Mr. David Housel, a strong supporter of the foundation. With an emphasis on eternal gifts, he said, “You know, the older I get, the more I realize that all of us want to make a difference. All of us want to make the world better. All of us want to leave a legacy. Yet, all things human will pass away,” he said. “The only thing we can do that will truly last is what we do for other human beings. The Stegall Foundation gives us the opportunity to greatly influence tomorrow.” Rev. Robin Wilson, a foundation alumna and current member of the board of directors, also spoke of legacy. “As a student, as an alumna, and now as a pastor, it is my privilege to be able to continue to support others. We are a part of the legacy that has been handed down from generation to generation.” In Pensacola, Chris Varnson, who will attend Duke Divinity School, and Melanie Faust, who will attend Candler School of Theology, shared their excitement about enrolling in seminary this fall. “The addition of Chris and Melanie as new seminary students gives us a total of nine students from the Pensacola District,” said Dr. Karl K. Stegall. The Marianna/Panama City District, led by Dr. Doug Pennington as District Superintendent, hosted an event at First United Methodist Church of Panama City, where Rev.  Steve Rascoe serves as the pastor. “Although the importance of financial assistance cannot be overstated, another significant contribution of the Stegall Foundation is the emotional and spiritual support it provides,” said Pennington. “Feeling cared-about is difficult to quantify, but it has immeasurable value to our seminary students during what can be a very demanding time in their lives." Rev. Brad Goode, a foundation alumnus and graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, shared a personal testimony of the significant difference the scholarship made in the life of his family of five while attending seminary. Goode now serves as the pastor of Good News UMC in Santa Rosa Beach. “As we were eating our dinner during the banquet, my daughter, Caroline, leaned over to me and said, ‘It sure takes a lot of people to send somebody to seminary!’ It sure does, but sadly many people do not have the support of a movement such as the Stegall Foundation behind them as I did.” “The regional banquet served as yet another reminder that seminary is a team sport,” he said. “These events have been a great way to celebrate the work of the Foundation and invite others into this ministry as it continues to grow and develop leaders for the Kingdom of God!” Mr. Stephen Smith and his wife, Cami, are members of Panama City FUMC, and are generous supporters of both their local church and the Stegall Foundation. Smith shared that his family stepped out in faith to support seminary students when they realized that many have loans that total over $50,000 which must be repaid on average starting salaries of approximately $35,000 per year. As the event in Panama City drew to a close, a mother walked to the front and said with tears in her eyes, “I just want to thank the Stegall Foundation for supporting the students we have seen tonight, and others like Rhett Butler.” Butler, a Stegall Foundation alumnus, was featured in a video shown at the beginning of the program. “My daughter is a student at Huntingdon College where Rhett, only one year out of seminary, serves as the new Chaplain,” she said. “He has already made a huge difference in the life of my daughter!”