More than 50 Florida Baptists receive academic scholarships

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More than 50 Florida Baptists have received $1,000 scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year through a cooperative effort between Florida Baptist Financial Services and the Florida Baptist Convention.

The Florida Baptist Pastor’s Theological Education Scholarship was established in April 2022 at the Florida Baptist State Board of Missions meeting, and this year’s recipients are the second group to be awarded the scholarships.

“We are excited to partner in providing resources for theological education to Florida Baptists. The calling out of the called is critical for the advance of the gospel. It is a blessing to share in the equipping of the called for ministry. The generosity of Florida Baptists provides tangible encouragement to those preparing for ministry,” said Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer.

It is a blessing to share in the equipping of the called for ministry. The generosity of Florida Baptists provides tangible encouragement to those preparing for ministry.

Tommy Green Executive director-treasurer, Florida Baptist Convention

Rick Wheeler, president/CEO of Florida Baptist Financial Services, added, “Through the generosity of our board members, we were once again able to offer these scholarships from the Florida1Fund. While life and ministry can be difficult at times, we want to make it as easy as possible for Florida Baptist pastors and their immediate family members to be equipped as they fulfill God’s call to serve the church. We were delighted to receive so many words of thanks and gratitude from the scholarship recipients, and we are honored to serve them in this way.”

Among this year’s 50-plus recipients is Aaron Chan, assistant pastor at River City Baptist Church in Jacksonville and church planter at the Hope Church of Mayport in Jacksonville.

“As a church planter, personal finances are often tight and unpredictable. As a church planter who is also a fulltime seminary student, paying for a theological education is just another addition to the stress that I face daily. I am so thankful for the Florida Baptist Pastor’s Theological Education Scholarship. The generosity of so many through this scholarship truly makes a difference to me and my family, and it allows me to care for my family and my church in an even greater way,” Chan said.

Chan has two more semesters before earning a master of divinity degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Seana Reavis, wife of Josh Reavis, associate pastor at North JAX Baptist Church, is a second-year recipient of the scholarship. She is studying to attain a master of theological studies degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

“I have been serving in ministry alongside my pastor husband for nearly 18 years and have long prayed about the opportunity to receive seminary training. As a mother of three growing children, receiving this scholarship means that I won’t have to defer taking seminary classes as it removes some of the financial barrier that parents often have for further education,” she said.

“My prayer is that this degree program will strengthen and further equip me to effectively teach and serve at the church where my husband is a pastor.”

Garrett Johnson, worship pastor at Mandarin Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said he “began sensing God expanding my calling to other areas of ministry. God has been using me and my family to meet the needs of our faith family in ways I most certainly wasn’t anticipating early on in ministry!”

He and his wife, Alejandra, felt that “pursuing a seminary degree was something God was leading me to, but yet again, things didn’t quite make sense or add up, especially financially. But having seen God come through in the past made us believe He will provide again. So, we jumped in!”

Still, as due dates for tuition payments drew closer, the couple began to feel financial pressure “that we might not be able to make certain ends meet, or that it might have just been an unwise time.”

Johnson learned about the scholarship opportunity and quickly submitted his application. “As He always does, the Lord shows up with what we were

As He always does, the Lord shows up with what we were needing! He is a faithful God and will always provide for what He calls us to!

Garrett Johnson Worship pastor, Mandarin Baptist Church, Jacksonville

needing! He is a faithful God and will always provide for what He calls us to!”

Expressing gratefulness for the scholarship, Johnson said, “I believe that God wants to use this next season of life to train and prepare me for what He has in store for me serving His church.”

Johnson is beginning his seminary journey this semester, pursuing a master of arts in ministry leadership degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Scholarship applicants must be actively serving, or be an immediate family member of one who is actively serving, in an ordained pastoral role within a Florida Baptist church for at least one year and must also be pursuing a ministry-focused degree through a Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated college or seminary.

The deadline for applications for the 2024-25 academic year will be in June 2024, and scholarships may be renewed for up to two years.

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