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Scholarships Help Candler Students Prepare for Ministry

By Rachel Reiff Ellis | Development Communications | Feb. 21, 2014

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One of the first things that comes to mind for anyone considering seminary is, “How will I afford it?” At Emory’s Candler School of Theology, the answer often comes from alumni and friends who help fund scholarships. 

First-year MDiv student Brady Baird is a good example of this generosity in action. While studying for an undergraduate degree in theology at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, he decided to go into the ministry. “Since high school, I’d known I wanted to participate in church leadership,” he says, “but it wasn’t until then that I heard God saying, ‘I’ve got something more for you to do.’” 

Baird graduated and set his sights on graduate school, but as he and his wife added two girls to their family, he knew that advancing his theological education would require financial savvy. After he was accepted to Candler, he received a phone call that he had been awarded the Allie and Excell Watson Scholarship.

“It was a surprise—a really good surprise,” he says.

Baird is the first recipient of the Watson Scholarship. The funding comes from an endowment created by North Georgia Bishop B. Michael Watson 74T and his wife, Margaret L. Watson, to honor his late parents. Allie and Excell Watson were devoted United Methodists who served their church and inspired their children to live faithfully. Memorial funds from First United Methodist Church in Dothan, Alabama, and private contributions are helping build the endowment.

 A lifelong United Methodist from the Alabama-West Florida Conference, Baird says he was drawn to Candler because of its ties to the denomination, and he was reassured by its robust scholarship program. “Candler does an excellent job of providing financial resources to its students,” he says. Another plus is that Candler’s application for admission serves as the scholarship application, which makes it easier for applicants, he says. 

Baird, who hopes to be ordained as an elder in The United Methodist Church, is working as the pastor of Summerville UMC in Phenix City, Alabama, while he completes his degree. He says the Watsons’ endowment will help ongoing generations of Candler students.

“I feel a great sense of history and connection at Candler as an official United Methodist. I’m grateful to the Watsons for this award, not only for me, but for those who will come after me.”

To learn more about supporting scholarships at Candler, click here.