Keith Sayer, a senior at Anderson University double majoring in Bible and Religion and English, from Mooresville, Ind. was recently selected as the 2011 recipient of the Rev. Billie Roy and Pearl Toon Smith Endowed Christian Education Scholarship Award. The $5,700 scholarship was presented to Sayer on March 21 by the Religious Studies Department during a special luncheon in the Olt Student Center.
"Mr. Sayer is a worthy recipient of this year's award. His work within the department has been outstanding and his application was impressive," said Dr. Alan Overstreet, associate professor of Christian education/ministry and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Anderson University. [Photo, from left: Dr. Merle Strege, Dr. Marie Morris, Keith Sayer, Dr. Fred Burnett, Dr. Alan Overstreet, Sheila MacMurray.]
After graduation, Sayer plans to spend the summer working at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. In the fall, he will attend either Vanderbilt Divinity School or Duke Divinity School in pursuit of a professional degree in religion. Sayer hopes to teach and write for the church and eventually plans to pursue further doctoral study to prepare to be a professor.
"The Rev. Billie Roy and Pearl Toon Smith Endowed Christian Education Scholarship represents the wonderful life and years of Christian service of a truly exceptional woman; the bulk of the honor involved in receiving this award is a recognition that I am following in her legacy, which is a humbling thought," said Sayer. "I am so thankful for the confidence that the Anderson University faculty have demonstrated toward me by choosing me for the Smith award."
In addition to the Scholarship Award, the Smith family also supported The Pearl Toon Smith Endowed Memorial Christian Education Lecture Series, funded by the Rev. Billie Roy Smith in memory of his late wife Pearl, who passed away in January 1995 after 54 years of marriage. The first lecture series was held in 1997.
In March 2007, the Smith family converted the endowment to a scholarship fund to honor Pearl's love of Christian education. The annual award recognizes an outstanding senior in Christian Education. [Photo: Keith Sayer and parents Larry and Julia Sayer.]
"Keith thinks carefully about issues of interpretation and has worked to make meaningful connections between his academic pursuits and his ministry opportunities," said Overstreet. "It is gratifying to know that this award will help to launch the next phase of his academic career and that it will support his ongoing work."
Past recipients include Xen Riggs, Hannah Adams, and Suzanne (Drayer) Kellam.
Originally from Alabama, the Rev. Billie Roy Smith (BTh '49) felt a call to ministry in 1946 and moved with Pearl and their young daughter to Anderson, Ind., where he enrolled at Anderson University. Pearl supported the family by working second shift at Guide Lamp. The family attended Park Place Church of God where Pearl was touched by the teaching of Carl Kardatzke in their Sunday school class. Kardatzke's classes created a desire in Pearl to study Christian education, so she decided to take several classes sponsored by the Church of God. Over the years, Pearl taught Sunday school and served on the state board of Christian education for the Alabama Women of the Church of God.
"It is always a privilege to present the Billie Roy and Pearl Toon Smith Memorial Christian Education Scholarship Award. The Smith and Stephens families have provided valuable support to the university community, both through the scholarship and the preceding lecture series, and the Department of Religious Studies is appreciative of the benefits that continue to come to students through the generous vision of the families," said Overstreet. [Photo: Ken and Arlene Hall, Christie Smith Stephens, Keith Sayer, Ron Moore.]
The Rev. Billie Roy and Pearl Toon Smith Endowed Christian Education Scholarship Award is a part of the $110 million Dreams. Discovery. Direction. campaign for Anderson University. The campaign is the largest fundraising effort in the university’s history. To date the campaign has raised $97 million. Major components of the campaign include $51 million for capital projects, $34 million for endowment, and $25 million for operational support.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.