Making the Connections: Mississippi and Methodist Black History

2/16/2022

By: Matthew Johnson Connectional Ministries and Communications Assistant

Historically Black Gammon Theological Seminary, in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 1883 by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Throughout its history, Gammon has prepared black Methodist clergy to be leaders at churches in Mississippi and across the United States. Today, Gammon is educating and preparing the next generation of black clergy to lead the modern church. With help from the Global Board of Higher Education Ministry, GBHEM, black Methodist clergy students have been blessed with the resources they need to complete graduate education and become the next generation of spiritual leaders without piling on loads of debt.

Rev. Sandras Anderson, a part-time local pastor who serves at Hopewell United Methodist Church in Louisville, is a current student at Gammon Theological Seminary. Growing up, Anderson attended both Methodist and Baptist churches, and during college, at Delta State, Anderson was active with the Wesley Foundation and Baptist Student Group. However, it was the Christian education and ministries at Wesley United Methodist Church in Kosciusko that led Anderson to want to become a permanent member of The United Methodist Church.

 “I truly believe it was the teaching and ministries of the Methodist Church that spoke to my heart and soul as a young person, especially while in college, and furthermore as an adult,” said Anderson. It is because of these experiences offering me spiritual direction and guidance that I chose to become a part of The United Methodist Church.”

Anderson would receive her call to ministry years later and decided to continue her education but was unsure where. While attending annual conference in 2018, Anderson heard a speech from Dr. Ken Walden who was president of Gammon Theological Seminary at the time. The speech touched her spirit and lead to her calling a recruiter at Gammon and scheduling a visit to the campus.

“Upon arriving on campus, the spirit of belonging filled my heart, I knew I was where God would have me to be. The notion of attending a historically Black Seminary has been comforting to me. Gammon would offer me a sense of purpose and confidence that would direct me throughout my ministerial journey,” said Anderson.

Rev. Sandras Anderson

After her visit, Anderson felt continuing her education at historically black Gammon Theological Seminary would be a dream come true, but she was unsure how she would be able to afford it. After praying about it diligently, God answered by making a way. Anderson applied for and received the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship from the GBHEM with matching funds from the Methodist Foundation of Mississippi. The scholarship funds are provided 50-50 by each organization.

“One of the goals of this scholarship is to reduce debt for young clergy,” said Allyson Potts, executive director of loans and scholarships for the General Board of Education and Ministry. “Since 2017 the scholarship has prevented millions of dollars in what would have been student loans.”

Anderson is very thankful for the gift because without it she knows she wouldn’t have been able to meet her goal of becoming clergy.  

“Scholarships are expressions of love and support for those God has called to serve in ministry, they are signs of confirmation of God’s assurance that He is our provider and the source of all our needs,” said Anderson

After she finishes the Master of Divinity program at Gammon this spring, Anderson plans on completing the elder commissioning track, and after being ordained hopes to serve in a rural church.

For almost 140 years Gammon Theological Seminary has been preparing black clergy for the mission of leading Methodist Churches. Thanks to the generosity of donors to the GBHEM and the Methodist Foundation of Mississippi their dreams of continued education can be realized without the complications of heavy student loan debt.

Students interested in GBHEM scholarships and churches interested in donating to scholarships can find more information here.
 

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