FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Seminary recognized an individual and a foundation for their ongoing commitment to fund student scholarships, March 20. Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., received the B.H. Carroll Award, named for the seminary’s founder and first president, and the Mary I. Gourley Foundation accepted the L.R. Scarborough Award, named for the seminary’s second president.
During the awards luncheon, President Paige Patterson explained the crucial need for scholarships as tuition rates across the country continue to skyrocket and the vast majority of seminary graduates do not enter into lucrative career positions that could afford to pay off student loans.
“Just within the last five years, I believe scholarship money has become more critical, more important and more pivotal than it ever has been in all of history,” Patterson said. He noted that scholarships relieve seminary graduates of the burden of debt so they can freely serve the Lord wherever He calls them.
“Today, it is my great joy to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of every one of these students who probably would not stay in school if it was not for what you have done,” Patterson said. “Because of what you have done, these students are able to stay in school and make that preparation in order to go.”
In presenting the B.H. Carroll Award, Patterson praised Stanley for his unselfish commitment to support the next generation of pastors and preachers.
“It’s most unusual to find a pastor who thinks beyond his own situation and says, ‘I want to look after those who come after me because I know someday I’ll go on to be with the Lord, and I want someone to be able to stand in my pulpit and other pulpits and continue to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ,’” Patterson said. “That’s what makes Dr. Stanley so different from many others.“
Stanley, a Southwestern graduate and founder of In Touch ministries, recounted his own experience with scholarships. He could not afford to attend school, but his pastor made arrangements for his tuition to be paid for all four years. Through that experience, Stanley said he learned that “God can handle all of your needs if you know what He wants you to do and you trust Him.”
Stanley learned this lesson as a college and seminary student, but he has also seen it in his ministry.
“He’s supplied all our needs these years at In Touch,” Stanley said. “He’s not only the supplier, but He also uses all of us to be channels. So, it’s only fair for us, and the right thing to do, to provide for others when God has provided for us.
“Just because we have [given] doesn’t mean we’re finished. As long as the Lord provides, we don’t intend to stop doing what God has called us to do. … We not only go, but we also send.”
Robert Albritton, president of the Mary I. Gourley Foundation, received the L.R. Scarborough Award on behalf of the organization. The foundation has a long relationship with the seminary and has helped more than 125 students graduate from Southwestern.
Rooted in her own personal experience, Mary Gourley had a heart for seeing students reach their goals, and her faith in God formed the basis for the foundation’s support of the seminary. Albritton said she was “a dedicated Baptist who believed in the mission that you preach, which is missions and evangelism.”
The foundation not only provides scholarships, but they take a personal interest in each student.
“We try to treat each student as a person, not a social security number,” Albritton said.
Southwestern is grateful for all of its ministry partners who invest in the seminary and in students in order to see the Gospel spread to the ends of the earth.