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Seminary receives gift to establish Emanuel AME Church scholarship

Press Conference -Wisdom at podium
From left, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, Hal Stevenson, and Dr. Christopher Wisdom

A gift of $10,000 to establish a scholarship for African Methodist Episcopal (AME) students in honor of Mother Emanuel AME Church was presented to Erskine Theological Seminary (ETS) July 7 by, the organization that sponsors a South Carolina DMV license plate of the same name.

At a news conference in the rotunda of the Statehouse in Columbia, Hal Stevenson, a member of the multi-racial and multi-denominational board, introduced representatives from AME churches,, and Erskine Seminary.

Prior to the news conference July 7, proceeds from the sales of “IBelieve” specialty license plates had been designated for evangelism and ministry work, but no funds had been disbursed by the organization.

“Then came Emanuel,” Stevenson said, referring to the June 17 shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, which took the lives of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and eight of his parishioners.

Press Conference -Stevenson at podium
Hal Stevenson at podium and, from left, Dr. Christopher Wisdom, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, Crystal Tolbert of the ETS Columbia campus, and Dr. Toney Parks of ETS

“The IBelieve board wanted to help train up new Clementa Pinckneys by helping talented and financially challenged ministerial students,” he said.

Dr. Christopher Wisdom, who serves as vice president and professor of practical theology at Erskine Seminary, noted that July 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the racial integration of Erskine Seminary, and the percentage of African American students enrolled has increased over the years.

Press Conference -cameras showing
Dr. Christopher Wisdom takes the podium during the news conference.

“The largest group of black students by denomination are those from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and they number over one-fifth of our students,” he said.

“In response, this year Erskine has strengthened our relationship with the AME Church by hiring Dr. Lawrence Gordon, senior pastor of Greater Macedonia AME Church in Charleston, as adjunct professor of AME history, polity, and doctrine.”

Gordon, who was also present at the news conference, has played “a key pastoral role in ministering to the spiritual needs of the bereaved families of the nine murder victims of Emanuel AME Church,” Wisdom said.

Wisdom expressed appreciation to Stevenson and the organization for donating the funds. “With this gift, Erskine Theological Seminary will initiate the establishment of a newly endowed scholarship for AME students, the ‘Emanuel AME Church Scholarship,’ in honor of the martyred minister and members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston,” he said.

The cause of racial reconciliation is advanced and the unity of the Christian community is demonstrated, Wisdom said, “by making known such acts of Christian generosity that cross racial and denominational lines in the interest of training future leaders of Christian churches.”

Wisdom thanked Dr. Oran Smith of for arranging the news conference.


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Erskine College admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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