From left (front row) Isaac Stargel, Mandie Trainer, Levie Land, Emily Felton. From left (second row) Drew Golden, Drew Reynolds, Hannah Rankin, Bethany Manley. Not pictured: Carrie Rust and Gideon Owens.
From left (front row) Isaac Stargel, Mandie Trainer, Levie Land, Emily Felton. From left (second row) Drew Golden, Drew Reynolds, Hannah Rankin, Bethany Manley. Not pictured: Carrie Rust and Gideon Owens.

Tigerville, SC -- Colleges are recognized for distinct qualities. Clemson University is known for its National Championship football teams.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is known for applied sciences and high-tech innovations. The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts is known for, you guessed it, circus arts. Whether written or unwritten, every school is most known for its niche in the higher education segment. Over 125 years, North Greenville University (NGU) has earned a distinguished reputation for equipping Christian transformational leaders.

Ten NGU students are recipients of the inaugural Palmetto Collective (PC) Scholarship awarded by the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC). The SCBC Director of Collegiate Ministries Chad Stillwell announced the NGU recipients during a Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) meeting on Thursday, September 17.

The PC is a prestigious ministry scholarship and an elite squad of Christian college students from across the state who are deeply committed to leading out in ministry in the tumultuous days ahead.  The PC offers a ministry experience like no other. These select students are not only being discipled by prominent leaders within the SCBC, but they are also dedicated to leading and serving in ministry both locally and globally: in the semester, over school breaks, and after graduation.

Several years before the bestowing of these scholarships, Jody Jennings, NGU’s vice president for campus ministries and student engagement, had a dream to partner with the SCBC to generate a pipeline that prepares students to engage effective ministry both foreign and domestic.  Ken Owens, with the SCBC, took Jennings’s dream seriously, and the brainstorming began.  Select ministers from across the state rose to the occasion, while surrendered to Christ’s leadership, and generated the PC.

“Isaiah 6:8 says: ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I. Send me.’  Students at BCM are putting their ‘yes’ on the table and saying along with the prophets of old, “Here am I. Send me,” said NGU BCM Director Joshua Gilmore.  

Twenty scholarships are available for the Palmetto Collective.  Ten of these scholarships were awarded to NGU students.  Out of the 30 Baptist Collegiate Ministries in South Carolina,  NGU produced half of the overall recipients. NGU’s recipients are Emily Felton from Inman, Drew Golden from Travelers Rest, Levie Land from Travelers Rest, Bethany Manley from Florence, Gideon Owens from Simpsonville, Hannah Rankin from Travelers Rest, Drew Reynolds from Simpsonville, Carrie Rust from Greenwood, Isaac Stargel from Barbourville, KY, and Mandie Trainer from Anderson.

Stillwell said the ideal Palmetto Collective candidate is someone who has been transformed by the Gospel, is significantly involved in the life of their local church, and has a deep desire to grow in their Christlikeness.

“They should have a passion for saturating others with the Gospel, beginning locally and extending to the ends of the earth,” said Stillwell. “The scholarship is for those with a call to full-time ministry or overseas missions and those pursuing secular professions. In other words, students who want to be missional leaders wherever God leads them. Students are recommended to apply via their campus minister or college pastor.”

Students enter a discipleship cohort, working on monthly studies and projects developed by top-level church leaders in SC.

“The students will be connected with a local mentor who will help them process what they are learning and experiencing with one-on-one discipleship meetings. Once a month, the cohort will meet virtually to discuss that month’s focus and to hear from national and international leaders,” Stillwell said.

Passion begets passion through an overnight experience where Collective students spur each other to pursue Christ and make Him famous around the world. At mid-year, during Christmas break, the Palmetto Collective will dive into a mission intensive to deepen learning and engagement with the missionary task. This year’s intensive plans are being made for Dec. 16-21, 2020, in New York City. Transportation, lodging, and meals are provided for this experience.

Students will be encouraged to serve in Baptist ministry and mission settings during the summer break between their junior and senior years. For those raising money to serve during the summer, Palmetto Collective grants will be available to help defray some of the costs of that service.

After graduation, students will receive up to $5,000 for two years of mission engagement after college – either through IMB or NAMB’s Journeyman program or a Go2 experience in North America (typically serving with a church planting team in a strategic city). Funds for Journeyman or Go2 experiences will depend on length and level of participation in the Collective cohort training and mission engagements before graduation.

Stillwell gave each recipient a small stone globe as a reminder that “God’s focus is on the lost in the world and on the two billion people on this planet who have little or no access to the Gospel.”

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