More than 60 Florida Baptists have received $1,000 scholarships for the 2022-23 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 inaugural group to be awarded the scholarships.
“I am grateful for the collaborative kingdom heart of our Florida Baptist family. The intent of the scholarship is to bless our Florida Baptist pastors and family members pursuing theological training through a Southern Baptist-affiliated college, university or seminary. We rejoice that God continues to call out the called to vocational Christian ministry. Our prayer is that this scholarship initiative will encourage those seeking theological education,” Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer said when the scholarship was established.
Rick Wheeler, president/CEO of Florida Baptist Financial Services, agreed, “We are thrilled to partner with the Florida Baptist Convention to provide these scholarships from our Florida One Fund. Today’s ministry environment calls for leaders who are equipped to serve with theological clarity and conviction. We pray these scholarships will bless those who are preparing to serve or taking their skills and training to the next level.”
Among this year’s 60-plus recipients was Tadd Anderson, lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Crestview.
“I’m very thankful for this scholarship. It means that as a young pastor of a relatively small Florida Baptist church, the financial burden of continuing my theological education will be a little bit less!”
Anderson is studying to attain a master’s degree in biblical counseling at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
“The need for biblical counselors in the Panhandle of Florida is great. After earning my degree, I hope to start a counseling ministry to serve and minister to hurting people in our area, with the hope of new life offered in the gospel,” said Anderson, who has served his church in Okaloosa Baptist Association since 2017.
Jason Stanland, middle school pastor at Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, also is an inaugural recipient of the scholarship. Stanland is studying to earn a doctorate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“My doctoral degree at New Orleans Seminary means getting the resources and help to develop a philosophy of ministry for middle school ministry. This is something that is very needed as every church has middle school students but few have strategies to engage and disciple them,” Stanland said, expressing gratitude for the scholarship.
Hannah Loy, who attends The Baptist College of Florida, said, “This amazing scholarship allows me to follow what God has called me to do. With this scholarship I can move forward in earning a bachelor’s degree in music and a minor in psychology. I hope to be a music therapist helping people who struggle with anxiety and trauma and showing them Gods love.” Her father, Steve Loy, is pastor of Spruce Creek Baptist Church in Port Orange.
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 2023-24 academic year will be in June 2023, and scholarships may be renewed for up to two years.