Pastors' Conf. scholarships exceed projections
PHOENIX (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference has announced the first 30 recipients of $1,000 scholarships to attend the Pastors' Conference and SBC annual meeting this summer in Phoenix.
With more scholarship announcements anticipated within weeks, the first wave of awards already has exceeded the estimated 5-20 scholarships Pastors' Conference leaders had hoped to fund.
"We are thrilled that we have been able to help this group of men to attend, grateful to those who have given and anticipate giving out even more in the near future," Pastors' Conference President Dave Miller told Baptist Press in written comments. "Our regret is that we will not be able to help everyone who wants to come to the annual meeting and Pastors' Conference."
The Pastors' Conference will feature preaching, worship and prayer to undergird the ministry of pastors and their wives. The sessions at the Phoenix Convention Center will be held June 11-12, prior to the SBC's June 13-14 annual meeting there. The 12 conference preachers pastor churches ranging in size from approximately 60 to 500 in worship attendees.
Larger churches traditionally have helped fund the Pastors' Conference. This year, however, conference costs have been covered by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's Caskey Center for Church Excellence and other sponsors, freeing the conference's traditional sponsors to help by funding attendance for pastors of smaller congregations who would not otherwise be able to make the trip to Phoenix.
According to an April 20 post on the SBC Voices blog, donors of the $30,000 in scholarships announced thus far include: Cross Church in northwest Arkansas; Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.; Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.; an individual donor at First Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma City; First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va.; Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison, Miss.; Cornerstone Fellowship Baptist Church in Haskell, Texas; and the SBC of Virginia.
A full list of scholarship recipients is available on SBC Voices.
Pastors' Conference leadership team member Brent Hobbs wrote on SBC Voices that the recipients pastor average-sized Southern Baptist churches "and wouldn't be able to attend without these scholarship funds. About 30% of our applicants are church planters." Several are from outside traditional Southern Baptist states, Hobbs noted, adding, "We love having this opportunity to bless small church pastors."
To qualify for a scholarship, applicants had to pastor churches with average worship attendance of fewer than 200 people, and the congregations they lead had to be "either unable or unwilling to fund expenses" for Pastors' Conference attendance, according to a March 30 SBC Voices post announcing the scholarships.
According to SBC Voices, a second round of scholarship awards could be announced the first week of May.
"We are going to be able to do far more scholarships than we originally anticipated, but still are likely to only fulfill the applications of about a quarter of those who applied," said Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa. "Of course, if Baptists give generously we will help more people!"