One of the more unique aspects of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation is the communication that donors and students share via regular, handwritten correspondence. Students, in a display of their deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by donors, send notes containing updates about seminary life, course work and professors, and prayer requests when times are challenging.
One student sharing her seminary journey through letters is Anna Grace Glaize, a first-year student at Yale Divinity School. Glaize is the daughter of two United Methodist clergy, Rev. Ed Glaize and Rev. Alecia Glaize. “That means I was definitely raised by the Alabama-West Florida (AWF) Conference,” she says.
Glaize’s call to ministry began after a few pivotal life experiences. “As a PK (preacher’s kid), I knew a decision to follow a call into ministry wasn’t one I could take lightly, so I started talking to ministers I respected about their own discernment process,” she says. “I never had a Moses-style ‘burning bush’ moment, but neither did most of the people with whom I talked. All I knew was that the times in my week I was happiest were the times I was talking with others about faith, and everyone I met with said that was a good enough sign.” Glaize is now a certified candidate for ministry in the AWF Conference and will seek ordination as a deacon.
As with most prospective students, Glaize had her reservations about the cost of a seminary education. “Almost every pastor I met with mentioned the Stegall Scholarship and reassured me that seminary was a viable option,” she says. “Yale’s academic reputation was really appealing, and I knew going to school outside of the south would be a good learning experience. Yale was fortunately very generous with their financial aid, and thanks to that and the Stegall Scholarship I was able to go with my top choice of seminary.”
Once she began seminary, Glaize wanted to reach out to her supporters via thank you notes and regular correspondence. The connection between donor and student can often be made more real when students learn that donors’ support is not merely financial, but a prayerful partnership in his or her life and ministry.
First semesters are always tough, but when her brother tragically died in an accident during her first weeks of seminary, the support Glaize received from Stegall Foundation donors was sustaining. “I had to fly home unexpectedly in my third week of school, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the semester,” said Glaize.
During this time of unimaginable loss, the Seekers Sunday School class at Montgomery FUMC was praying for the conference’s seminary students. “Each year at Christmas, we ask Dr. Stegall to give us information about the students we are supporting so we are able to learn more about them,” says Sidney Murray, a member of the Seekers Class.
Glaize wrote to the class: “Dealing with school and grief was and is difficult; that’s partly why I’m so grateful to the Stegall Foundation—during an incredibly stressful time, I didn’t have to stress about finances.”
Glaize went on to write: “Though it’s been difficult, I can’t think of a more personally beneficial time to study the many different ways people have understood God and His relationship to the world. “Near the end of her first semester Glaize reflected on the love and care shown to her family, despite her distance from home. She wrote, “I love school, and always have, but it’s difficult to be so very far away from my parents right now...In this, the worst season of our lives, my family has been carried by the many members of our family in Christ. Thank you so much for helping point me toward hope.”
The Stegall Foundation seeks to create lasting relationships between donors and students, relationships sustained throughout a lifetime of ministry. Your gifts to the Stegall Foundation continue to do amazing works in the name of Christ each and every year. Thank you for your faithfulness to students like Anna Grace, and all others who are preparing for a lifetime of Christian service.