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Grace Presbytery Fellowship eases financial burden for Austin Seminary student

Alex Pappas is first recipient of ministerial preparation grant

by Judy Everett Ramos | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Alex Pappas. (Photo provided)

Alex Pappas. (Photo provided)

AUSTIN, Texas – Alex Pappas, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ministerial inquirer under the care of Grace Presbytery, has received the Grace Presbytery Fellowship to fund her full seminary costs as she pursues a Master of Divinity degree at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

The new Grace Presbytery Fellowship is awarded to students who demonstrate interest in and a strong promise vocationally for leadership in the church, exceptional academic achievement, and leadership ability. Pappas said she is grateful for the scholarship and how it will help her in her academic and ministry journey.

“The promise of getting a master’s degree in a vocation that I am called to, without cost, is pretty amazing,” she said. “I can focus on my academics and take opportunities in ministry that I would otherwise have to turn down if I were trying to juggle a part time job as well as a full academic load. I am so thankful that I have the privilege of focusing solely on school.”

Last year, Grace Presbytery donated $600,000 to create the Grace Presbytery Austin Seminary Endowment Scholarship Fund to make this scholarship possible. The funds are the result of the interest income that is generated as funds are invested. This provides the scholarship for a seminarian under care of Grace Presbytery. The Grace Presbytery Fellowship recipient is selected in a joint process by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and leadership of Grace Presbytery, in consultation with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry.

Austin Seminary Academic Dean David H. Jensen underscored the significance of the Grace Presbytery Fellowship and what it means for recipients.

“Grace Presbytery has made it possible for a student under its care to emerge from seminary essentially debt free. This is a blessing to the church and to future pastors.”

Pappas has been involved with church ministries and activities since she was very young. She served as a small group leader, assistant Bible study leader, youth planning team member, youth coordinator, and then as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV). She served with her home church, Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Dallas, but her youth activities also took her to various parts of Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. She also served the Presbytery of South Louisiana as a staff member for two years.

Over time, Pappas realized it was time to pursue her calling.

“Since my time as an undergraduate student, people had been gently suggesting seminary. I guess those seeds just needed some time to grow, but once I realized it was time, I was ready to fully commit,” she said.

She applied for the Grace Presbytery Fellowship and got the good news from Austin Seminary President Theodore J. Wardlaw while she was visiting her brother, Daniel, in Peru. He had served as a YAV, sponsored by Grace Presbytery, for the last year.

“It was really nice because I got to celebrate with my entire family, which would not have happened if I had received his phone call any other time during the year.”

Wardlaw said, “We are pleased to welcome Alex as the very first recipient of the Grace Presbytery Fellowship,” he said. “Grace Presbytery, through this gift, is making a huge and deeply appreciated investment in theological education and the future of the church’s leadership.”

Jensen said the Grace Presbytery Fellowship will immediately impact student recipients and will have far-reaching effects on outreach efforts.

“Austin Seminary gives thanks to Grace Presbytery for its missional outreach, which ensures–in perpetuity–that a student from the Presbytery has this opportunity for unencumbered theological study. We are thrilled that Alex Pappas is the first recipient of this visionary scholarship.”

Judy Everett Ramos is Director of Communications for Grace Presbytery.


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