Gammon Theological Seminary Endowment Will Equip the Next Generation of Faith Leaders
In 2019, the Lord gave Charles W. Buffington Jr. a vision to establish a $20,000 scholarship fund to support Atlanta-based Gammon Theological Seminary students in perpetuity. Buffington, Gammon’s board of trustees development committee chair, realized if his team focused on providing scholarship opportunities to students via an endowment with the Georgia United Methodist Foundation, that it could become contagious. He was right! To date, they have raised over $20,000.
Buffington first understood the power of encouragement when he received $5 as a high school graduation gift from his late grandfather, a laborer. “I knew the sacrifice that $5 carried. He was encouraging me to go forward and do something with my life,” Buffington said. “We need to offer this same encouragement to Gammon students. When we give a scholarship to a student, we are saying that we believe in you and that we are making a tangible investment in your future because we know that you are going to benefit others with what you do in your life.”
Buffington and Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF president/CEO and fellow Gammon trustee, provided the seed money to start the endowment. Gammon trustees and development committee members, GUMF donors, and others who share Buffington’s passion for education in the Christian community have responded generously. “My prayer is that this is not the end, but the very beginning. I see a day when every student who comes to Gammon comes with, at a minimum, a scholarship from this endowment with GUMF,” Buffington said.
Founded in 1883, Gammon has a long history of educating African-Americans in the field of ministry. Buffington identifies four reasons people should support Gammon students. “One, there is a huge disparity with regard to support of historically black colleges and universities and predominantly white schools. And if you don’t like something, I want to encourage folks to step up and change this picture in a positive way. Two, look at the number of Gammonites who are now in leadership positions within The United Methodist Church. I don’t want to leave anyone out, but Gammon has produced Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, the first African-American woman to be elected bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, and Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina United Methodist Conference. Three, Gammon is the only historically black seminary in United Methodism. Four, the students who are called to Gammon are usually from an economically disadvantaged segment of the society and need our support,” he said.
Bishop Holston, Gammon board of trustees chair, adds, “We celebrate this milestone in the history of Gammon Theological Seminary. The establishment of the Gammon Scholarship Endowment illustrates our ongoing support for Gammon students and better positions Gammon to continue offering a holistic educational experience well into the future, equipping, and preparing the next generation of faith leaders.”
Now fully funded, the endowment will generate a $1,000 scholarship each year. Plus, it has the potential to be tripled through the United Methodist Dollars for Scholars Program when matched with a $1,000 award from the student’s United Methodist Church, and the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation.
“My goal is to provide one student with $6,000 in financial support during their two years at Gammon. It will lessen the burden of debt, plus the accumulated interest that they will have to carry after graduation. Student loan debt is a major issue with society in general and specifically impacts students aspiring to the ministry. This is exacerbated by the relatively low pay for newly appointed clergy,” Buffington said. “If we had one group, Sunday school class, or person who believes in Christian education to raise support among their friends, neighbors, and co-workers, we would advance the kingdom of Christ and change the world. My dream is to raise $1 million, one $25,000 scholarship at a time. I want ordinary people to see that you don’t have to be rich in resources to move with compassion and start the process of helping others to achieve their godly vision!”
Buffington invites anyone who feels led to contribute to this fund. To learn more, please contact Charles W. Buffington Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Nancy Young, GUMF Vice President of Development, at 678-708-6601 or email@example.com. With your help, we can fund additional scholarships! To make a donation, please mail your check made payable to the Georgia United Methodist Foundation to: PO Box 922087, Peachtree Corners, GA 30010-2087. Please note Gammon Theological Seminary Scholarship in the memo line.