By Patrick McBride
In 2016 I decided I wanted to attend seminary and respond to God’s call to be an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, but I had no idea how I would do it. As a husband and father working as a certified lay minister at Myrtle Grove UMC in Pensacola, I could not see how I would have any extra financial resources to devote to this calling.
However, after much prayer, I applied to Asbury Theological Seminary and doors began to burst wide open. God, through the faithful Stegall Foundation donors, was providing a way for our family to have the fiancial resources needed to take this step in faith.
With each passing semester, my family’s need has been met and I have been able to respond to God’s call without anxiety or increasing our debt. This is a gift from God through this wonderful foundation! It is a gift for my children: Olivia (6), Ben (4), and Violet (1); my wife, Jessica; and indeed the churches I will serve in the future. This gift allows me to focus on that to which God has called me—ministry— and not be weighed down by overwhelming financial stress.
I recognize that not every seminary student has such a gift, but the faithful obedience of the donors of the Stegall Foundation has been used mightily by God to richly bless my family and many other seminary students throughout the Alabama-West Florida Conference. It is indeed a testimony that as the Body of Christ we need each other. The moment that God called me into ministry, I realized that He had already called a group of faithful believers into their own ministry of support. We serve an awesome God!
This May I will graduate from Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity and will then be commissioned as a Provisional Elder in June. In this last semester of classes, I have also accepted a mid-year appointment as the new pastor at Heritage United Methodist Church in Enterprise, Ala., those members have so graciously agreed to allow me to be their pastor while finishing seminary.
God has used the Stegall Foundation in such a profound way in my life and in the life of my family. I thank God every day for this calling, and for His faithfulness in providing for my family through you. He called you, you responded, and I will forever be grateful!