For the past four years, Anderson University has been helping pastors of small churches receive the financial means to begin their seminary journey. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Anderson University School of Theology (SOT) applied for and received a $5,000 grant that allowed them to help one pastor each year begin his or her seminary education online. Once awarded to a recipient, the Chatlos scholarship pays for nearly an entire year of online education.
The Chatlos Foundation was founded to provide financial support to nonprofit organizations throughout the world. The SOT offers the Chatlos scholarship to one student each academic year. In order to meet the criteria for the scholarship, students have to be enrolled in the AU SOT and working toward receiving their online Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree. They also must be a pastor of a small congregation.
John Aukerman, director of distance education, has worked to ensure that pastors receive the aid they need. “I heard from several pastors of small churches who wanted to join our online degree, but they couldn’t afford it,” said Aukerman. “We asked Chatlos for money to help pastors of small churches afford seminary.” The SOT has reapplied and received the grant for the past four years.
The SOT applied for the scholarship because they saw a need in the church. Pastors of small churches often do not have the necessary financial means to further their education, making the goal of attending seminary seem nearly unattainable. “The students who have received this scholarship have told us that they could not have started seminary without this financial help,” said Aukerman.
Mary Nichols, recipient of the Chatlos scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year, wanted to begin her seminary journey, and made the financial plunge with the assistance of the SOT. “I’m at the point in my life where I am thinking about financing my children’s education while I am still making payments on my own undergraduate degree,” said Nichols. “This scholarship has made the impossible possible for me.”
Richard Prater, recipient of the Chatlos scholarship for the 2010-2011 academic year, has pastored the Church of God congregation in Fredericktown, Ohio, for 22 years, and he believes the SOT has made his goal -- being able to better serve his congregation -- possible through the Chatlos scholarship. “It is humbling because I know there are many people who are deserving, and many who could use the financial benefit as well,” said Prater. “I am very grateful that I received it.”
The SOT faculty and staff aim to support their students through finding avenues to make their education possible, and the Chatlos scholarship is one of them. “Interestingly, each of the recipients has stayed in the program and paid their own tuition after they used their scholarship,” said Aukerman. “The program opened the door for them to begin an important step in their ministry.”
— Allison Kohl is a senior from Springfield, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Kohl is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.