Photo Caption: (Left to Right): Brooke Talley, Brad Goode and Christian Dixon.
-By Rev. Brad Goode, Senior Pastor of Good News UMC in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. and member of the Stegall Foundation Board of Directors
“No, you really won’t have to pay it back!” Those were the words Rev. Jeff Wilson spoke to me at Dauphin Way UMC (Mobile, Ala.) almost ten years ago when I began my seminary journey. It was mind boggling to me that a pastor and group of people who barely knew me would make this kind of investment into my future. I kept asking what strings were attached to this generosity. But Rev. Wilson was assuring me that the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation was not a scam and that their generosity was genuine.
Over the past few years one of my favorite Scriptures has been 2 Corinthians 9:6. It reads, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” The generosity with which the Stegall Foundation sows is incredible. As I have transitioned from a student recipient to now serving as a member of the board, I have been humbled by the generosity and bold leadership of every single person involved.
The foundation not only has donors, like yourself, who are actively sowing generously into the next generation of church leadership, but we have a board of directors that does the same. You may not know this, but the foundation’s board is made up of some of the most humble and forward-thinking individuals in our conference. The vision, wisdom, and integrity that Dr. Stegall brings to the team as Volunteer President is unmatched. His selflessness and commitment to making investments that will last for generations is something that has truly changed the way in which I lead in the local church.
Jesus tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. When I was on the receiving end of the generosity of this scholarship foundation, it may have been a hard sell to get me to believe that! Each and every gift was such a blessing, a blessing that relieved the burdens of tuition and travel. Hearing others say that being a part of GIVING to the foundation and as a part of the leadership team would be better than RECEIVING...I just could not have imagined it to be true; but it absolutely is!
Here at Good News United Methodist Church where I currently serve, we have two students currently attending Asbury Theological Seminary in preparation to enter a lifetime of service to the church. To be able to walk along this journey with them has been an unexpected and deeply meaningful grace in my life.
Christian Dixon is currently serving as our director of Missions and Connections. When we were in the process of hiring Christian to join our team from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Stegall Foundation was a huge part of Christian making the move south. We didn’t just want him to come serve on our team; we wanted to make an investment into him and support him on his journey through seminary. It was such a gift as we were going through the hiring process with him to tell him about all the people like you who selflessly make incredible investments into the kingdom of God. Christian is not only going to school and working full-time, he and his wife Taylor are raising their two beautiful girls Eden (3) and Annie (6 months). Christian is a shining star on our staff and I am confident that God will use him to make a lasting impact in and through the local church for years to come.
Brooke Talley is also a member of Good News and pursuing her degree through Asbury Theological Seminary. Brooke was unexpectedly widowed at age 34 with a one year old son, Hayes. She graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Social Work, went on to get a Masters in Special Education of UAB and is currently working as a Behavior Therapist at the Emerald Coast Autism Center. Shortly after her husband's passing she was invited to a retreat for young widows. God did a powerful work through her at that time and she has been serving other young widows through a ministry she founded called Songs in the Night. Songs in the Night exists to see and support young widows while strengthening a faithful community where the depths of grief can propel us into even deeper relationships with God. Brooke also teaches a course each semester at Good News UMC called Pain to Purpose. In this class she invites others walking through a variety of difficult life circumstances to find a pathway and purpose as they walk through the valley.
Our local church has also been able to support students through Rev. Dr. Cris Perry Scholarship Fund. Dr. Perry was the previous pastor at Good News UMC and an adjunct pro- fessor at Asbury Theological Seminary. Dr. Perry attended Asbury himself and throughout his life invested into the lives of many seminary students as both an official and unofficial mentor. As our church leadership was pursuing ways to honor Dr. Perry’s ministry, the idea arose of taking an annual seminary offering in his honor. So each year on the first Sunday of March we invite a seminary student to preach in our services and take an offering for seminary students. We annually direct a portion of the money received to the Stegall Foundation.
A phrase we use often around Good News is this: “When we all play our small part, big things can happen.” As each of you plays your part in the Stegall Seminary Foundation, I hope you can see that big things are happening. Not only are we supporting many incredible students, but we are together laying a foundation that will be instrumental in equipping leaders of the local church for generations to come!
Thank you for continuing to sow generously as we together play our parts to invest in the leaders of the next generation! If you find yourself visiting the beautiful beaches of 30A this summer, you can find our service times and address at www.goodnewschurch.life