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Columbia Theological Seminary Students Receive Prestigious National Fellowship


Joe E. Darby, Leslie C. Fuller, Elizabeth G. Greaves, Christin W. Johnson, Kyle G. Kyzer and Elizabeth K. Toland, entering Master of Divinity students at Columbia Theological Seminary, have been recognized as young leaders who demonstrate exceptional gifts for ministry by The Fund for Theological Education (FTE). As recipients of 2009 FTE Congregational Fellowships, Darby, Fuller, Greaves, Johnson, Kyzer and Toland will each receive a $2,000 to $5,000 award from FTE, which matches support from their nominating congregations for seminary tuition and living expenses. They will also attend the 2009 FTE Conference on Excellence in Ministry, “Becoming Rich toward God: Pastoral Leadership and Economic Justice,” June 17-21 at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. FTE Congregational Fellows are selected competitively from a pool of applicants from across the U.S. and Canada. They must be nominated by a congregation, be preparing for congregational or parish ministry, have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and have intellectual and interpersonal gifts for pastoral leadership. Darby was nominated for the fellowship by Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn. Fuller was nominated for the fellowship by South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, N.C. Greaves was nominated for the fellowship by First Presbyterian Church, Granville, Ohio. Johnson was nominated for the fellowship by Roswell Presbyterian Church, Roswell, Ga. Kyzer was nominated for the fellowship by Smyrna Presbyterian Church, Conyers, Ga. Toland was nominated for the fellowship by First Presbyterian Church, Iola, Kan. FTE awards the fellowships, which are funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., to increase the number of highly capable young people exploring or preparing for ordained ministry as a profession. Fewer than seven percent of clergy in most denominations today are under age 35, and interest among seminary students in congregational ministry has declined over the past five years. “In today’s economy, the need to support young people who aspire to serve the church and the common good is an essential investment,” said the Rev. Ellen Echols Purdum, director of FTE Ministry Fellowships. “Congregations and entire communities need the intellect, leadership gifts and compassion that these candidates will bring to local challenges, spiritual, social and economic.” The Fund for Theological Education is a leading ecumenical advocate for excellence and diversity in pastoral ministry and theological scholarship. It annually awards $1.5 million in fellowships to gifted young people from all denominations and racial/ethnic backgrounds. For more information about FTE fellowships, visit

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