2013 D.Thomason Grants

First Presbyterian Church Shreveport

First Presbyterian Church is blessed to have many members who have remembered the church through testamentary and life-time gifts to the Legacy Fund. These permanent gifts have enabled us to minister to the needs of others in the name of Jesus Christ above and beyond the work and gifts made possible through the church’s annual operating budget. D. Thomason is one member in particular whose testamentary gift has made possible the making of grants approaching $5,000,000 to support the work of our Outreach partners and Presbyterian ministries locally, nationally, and around the world.

D. Thomason grants for 2013 totaled $111,600. The recipients of the 2013 D. Thomason Grants were recognized and thanked for their good work during worship on February 9, 2014. Those receiving grants were:

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, for the seminary’s capital campaign

Church of Bangladesh, to fund laptop computers for a number of the church’s pastors

First Presbyterian Church-Natchitoches, to help fund HVAC repairs and sanctuary lighting

Holmes Chapel Presbyterian Church-Monticello, AR, to fund a program to assist students to stay in school and graduate

Joy to the World Ministries, to help fund a secondary school project in Dzuwa region of Malawi

Montreat Conference Center, to fund a new LCD projector for Anderson Auditorium

Mo-Ranch Assembly Center, to remedy a particular accessibility issue at the King Dining Hall

Providence House, to replace futons at the Cotton St. facility

Volunteers for Youth Justice, to support its youth diversion programs

The ARC of Caddo-Bossier, to support its pre-school/daycare program

Common Ground Community, Inc., to fund a portion of the cost of replacing a floor in its main building

Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, to fund the replacement of sorting tables

Highland Center Ministries, LLC, to fund the purchase of school uniforms (Maggie Lee’s Closet) and support for men’s clothing closet

Hope for the Homeless, for furnishings for the main day room of the drop-in center at the new Hope Connections

Interfaith Pharmacy, for prescription medications for its clients

Literacy Volunteers, for computers and furnishings for its students

Martin Luther King Health Center, to fund an upgrade of its electronic medical records system

Samaritan Counseling Center, to help convert to an electronic records system



Andy Greenhow, one of the seminary students who received scholarship support from FPC last year, was ordained this past Sunday at Wayne Presbyterian Church near Philadelphia, his home congregation. He has been called to work now with Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, a ministry with which we also have ties. Andy has a two-fold role at BSM. First, he serves the worshiping community as a pastor. His second role is working on the development team, focusing on faith-motivated individuals and institutions, working with mission and outreach committees, volunteers, and individuals.

Andy graduated in May from Princeton and received the C. Frederick and Cleta R. Mathias Memorial Award for Worship and Pastoral Leadership. Your gifts to the Legacy Fund ear-marked for scholarships made it possible for this congregation to participate in a small way in Andy’s ministry.

Theological Education Sunday

Sunday, September 15, is Theological Education Sunday in the Presbyterian Church, and we are pleased to have Dr. Ted Wardlaw, President of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, as our preacher for that Sunday. We also want to use the focus on theological education as an opportunity to introduce you to the seven students receiving scholarship help from the church this year, all made possible by gifts earmarked for scholarships that were made to the Legacy Fund over the space of many years. Please take a minute to get acquainted with these exceptional men and women who have answered a call to ministry.

blackman Gordon Blackman, Jr. is a member of this church in his third and final year at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. This summer, Gordon completed his Clinical Pastoral Education requirement through a chaplain internship at a hospital in San Antonio, and he has just finished taking his ordination exams. This fall, he will be working with the Rev. Drs. Laura and Chuck Mendenhall at the Presbyterian Church of Lake Travis in Austin in Supervised Practice of Ministry course in addition to his seminary classroom work.

photoLisa Schrott and Fred Young are both students at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

Lisa is a member of this church in her first year of seminary at Columbia. Lisa has already completed her New Testament Greek course this summer and is looking forward to a fascinating and challenging set of courses this fall. She will be sharing her seminary experiences with us on the Musings blog and Skyping in to the Pathfinders Sunday School class this fall.

Fred is a native of Knoxville, TN, who answered a call to ministry in 2012 after many years in the corporate world. He is beginning his second year at Columbia Theological Seminary after serving this summer as a minister intern for Columbia Presbyterian Church located in Decatur, GA. He and his wife, Jennifer, are expecting their first child, a boy, in November, and they were among the first people to greet Lisa Schrott and Brian McWilliams upon their arrival at Columbia this summer.

LukataLukata Mjumbe is in a Masters program at Princeton Seminary after receiving his M.Div. degree this past spring. This fall, he is looking forward to taking advantage of a range of practical theology courses as well as continuing to work with Elmwood United Presbyterian Church as he prepares for the work that lies ahead for him in parish ministry, including working with the church to expand and focus its impact in the public square. He is also the Organizer of a new inter-faith organization made up of Christians, Muslims and Jews (supported by the New Brunswick Presbytery) known as the United Mercer Interfaith Organization.

Photo 243Amy Wilson-Stayton is the daughter of our former associate pastors, Claude and Margaret Wilson-Stayton. Amy is in her final year at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. This fall she will be finishing an internship at Central Presbyterian Church of Austin, working as the Seminary Liaison for the Young Adult Volunteer/Americorps Site at the seminary, and serving as an Instructional Aid for Elementary Biblical Hebrew.

??????????????????????Aaron Neff grew up in southern central Pennsylvania. Aaron is beginning his first year at Princeton Theological Seminary. Aaron graduated from college in 2010 and received a Master’s degree in Biblical Exegesis in 2012. He is currently an inquirer for ordained ministry under care of the Presbytery of Western New York. Aaron is married to Laura, his wife of one year, and he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and playing the guitar.

photo--joshua 3Joshua Gritter grew up in West Michigan and graduated from Seattle Pacific University. After Joshua finished college, he felt called into youth ministry and served as youth director for the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, Washington, for the past two years. Josh and his wife, Lara, will be entering seminary together at Duke Divinity School this fall

Update on Seminary Scholarship Recipients

Below is an update on three students graduating from seminary this spring who have been supported by seminary scholarships endowed by members of the congregation through gifts to the church’s Legacy Fund. We send our congratulations and best wishes to them all.

Barrett Abernethy graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in May. He has accepted a call to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Livingston, Alabama, where he will be ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament on August 18 during a service of ordination. Barrett writes: Thanks again for your support. It’s the First, Shreveports of the world that make seminary so much more enjoyable for so many of us due to your gracious stewardship.

Hriiyia Kayina graduated with a Master’s degree in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary on May 25, 2013.  She writes:  I am pleased to inform you that I have done well and that I was awarded with the “Appleby Book Award” from the Seminary. I want to thank the First Presbyterian church family once again for their generous support in helping me and my family.


Lukata Mjumbe graduated with his Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in May. At graduation Lukata was awarded the Edler Garnet Hawkins Award for Scholastic Excellence for the highest cumulative GPA of all African American seminarians in the graduating class.  Lukata has been accepted into the Princeton Theological Seminary Religion and Society department Master of Theology program for 2013-2014.  In explaining his decision to stay another year at Princeton, he writes: I am looking forward to taking advantage of a range of practical theology courses as well as continued work with Elmwood United Presbyterian Church as I prepare for the work that lies ahead. I believe that I am called to parish ministry, yet I also believe that my call is to work with the church to expand and focus its impact in the public square. I am pursuing the Th.M because I believe that it will provide with a needed additional year to prepare for what will be both a challenging and transformational ministry that requires both “ecclesial” as well as “secular” skills. Again, I thank First Presbyterian Church for your support.


2012 Seminary Scholarship Recipients

Many of our members have chosen to make gifts to the Legacy Fund to provide scholarships for students pursuing theological education.  Here’s an update on some of the students who are currently receiving support from this church during their seminary years.

Gordon Blackman is a “middler” student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  He has successfully completed one-half of his seminary training and is under care of the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport and the Presbytery of the Pines as a Candidate for Ministry.  He has already passed the Bible Content ordination exam and will take the other 4 exams in August.  This summer he will be taking a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) unit at Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, and next school year he will be taking a “Teaching Church” SPM (Supervised Practice of Ministry) with the Rev. Drs. Laura and Chuck Mendenhall at the Presbyterian Church of Lake Travis in Austin.  Upon graduation, Gordon is seeking a call to small church ministry, or wherever God may lead.

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Gordon Blackman Jr.

Sani A Mao and Hriiyia Kayina are a husband and wife from northeast India (Naga tribal group) who are both entering their final years at Union Seminary in Richmond.  He is in a doctoral program, and she is seeking her master of arts degree in Christian Education.  They plan to return to India where he will rejoin the faculty of Oriental Theological Seminary and she will continue her work teaching children.

At this time of the year we want to once again thank the First Presbyterian Church family for the financial support given to us. With the financial support we received we were able to focus more on our school work.  Sani is working on his dissertation proposal at the moment and I am working towards finishing my masters degree (Christian education) by May 2013. By the end of this year I will be done with most of the Courses.  Sani will then have more time to focus on writing his dissertation. Apart from the school work, our two year old daughter keeps us busy.

Please let the First Presbyterian Church family know we are very thankful to them for extending their love and care and reaching out to us.

Hriiyia and Sani

Hriiyia Kayina and Sani Mao

Lukata Mjumbe is in his final year at Princeton Theological Seminary.  He is 41, and he characterizes his personal and professional life before going to seminary as committed to “organizing, mobilizing and advocating on behalf of poor and oppressed communities.”

I thank God for First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport. The work at Princeton Theological Seminary is especially challenging as I move into this final year of seminary, but I would not be here without your support. I hope that I am able to preach for you after graduation — I have a testimony to share!

This semester, I am taking a full load of classes (15 credit hours) and am enrolled in courses at both the seminary and the university. I am enrolled in theology, ethics, philosophy, pastoral care and Christian education courses and have had to work hard to keep my head above water (particularly after being without power a full week following Hurricane Sandy). Nevertheless, I passed my last four ordination exams this semester and am looking forward to graduation next May. My family and I are preparing to exhale after what has been an intensely rewarding journey.

Lukata Mjumbe

Andy Greenhow is in his 3rd year at Princeton.  He spent 2 years as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer in New Orleans after graduating from college.  During his first year at Princeton, he worshipped at Broad Street Ministry, and with some encouragement, decided to take off a year from seminary to work full time with Rev. Bill Golderer.  He found a “compelling form of pastoral ministry” at BSM and hopes to replicate a similar type of ministry in New Orleans after his graduation.  Andy writes:

I have had a busy fall semester, between a full course-load, part-time church job, and planning a wedding.  Karen Rohrer and I were married in Philadelphia in November, and I’ll commute to seminary for my final semester.  Studies in Christian worship, modern American religious history, environmental theology and speech communication have been going well but I am more than ready for Christmas break.  Thank you all for your support, and I ask your prayers for my new married life and final semester.

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Andy Greenhow

Barrett Abernethy is in his third and final year at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary where he is student body president this year.  Barrett was featured in Dr. Ted Wardlaw’s Advent letter to friends of the seminary as an example of the type of student being helped by their gifts.  Dr. Wardlaw wrote that “Barrett is an outstanding student and will strengthen the church through his leadership, and you help make that possible….While your gifts enable our current students to become faithful servant-leaders, they will go out to serve churches and other Christian ministries touching countless lives.”  We share Barrett’s excitement as he completes his seminary preparation for ministry and offer our prayers for him as he begins this new part of his journey to ordination.  He sent us this recent update:

It has been a wonderful fall semester so far, I found out last month that I passed all of my ordination exams, and last Monday I went before the CPM of my home presbytery (Sheppards and Lapsley in Birmingham, AL) and was approved ready to receive a call. I am now in the process of finishing up the semester and starting on a PIF so I can begin making contact with churches and vice-versa. It is definitely an exciting time for both Braegan, my wife, and me.

Barrett and Braegan Abernethy 2

Barrett and Braegan Abernethy

Seminary Scholarship Impact Long Lasting

One of the joys of the Outreach Ministry is overseeing the award of scholarships to assist seminary students in their theological education. These grants are made possible by gifts from church members over the years to the endowment fund for the restricted purpose of scholarships. We will be profiling the 2012 scholarship recipients next week.  They will share how these awards are helping them fulfill their ministry calling. The blessing of these awards is long lasting.  A former seminary scholarship recipient visited our church last winter and delivered this note to Dr. Shetler before worship:

Dear First Presbyterian Church,

I entered Louisville Presbyterian Seminary 30 years ago this fall.  I was delighted when the Registrar told me I was awarded $500 scholarship from your congregation.  I kept my grades up and received your support for three years.  Five hundred dollars was a lot of money in those days.  You helped me graduate debt free.

I’m here in worship today, saying thank you for investing in my ministry.  First Presbyterian Shreveport has been in mutual ministry through my years as a hospital chaplain, two long-term pastorates, and two interim positions.

Thank you for supporting my education 1982-1985 and all those who followed.

In Christ’s Service.

Update on FPC Scholarship Recipients

Many members have chosen to make gifts to the Legacy Fund to provide scholarships for students pursuing theological education.  Here’s an update on a few recent graduates who received support from this church during their seminary years.

Kelly Updegraff Staples is currently Director of Youth Ministries and Pastoral Assistant at North Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas.  As yet another example of the tight knit world of the Presbyterian family, Bob Shelton served North Park as interim pastor after he left us.  The Committee on Preparation for Ministry of Pines Presbytery, which has been a companion on Kelly’s journey since she began her seminary studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has certified Kelly as ready to seek a call and ordination as a teaching elder. Here’s a link to the web page of the church Kelly is serving: North Park Presbyterian Church

Christen Johnson has graduated from Columbia Seminary in Atlanta.  She is serving as an interim associate pastor at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia, a Presbyterian church known nation-wide for its efforts in racial reconciliation and racial diversity in the church. Here are links to the website of Christen’s new church Oakhurst Presbyterian and to an article about the church itself: Oakhurst Presbyterian Turns 90

Megan Ludwig has completed all of her course work at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and will graduate in May of 2013 after she has completed a year of Clinical Pastoral Education at Seton Family of Hospitals in Austin, Texas.  Here’s a link to her CPE Program at Seton