(Audrey Rodgers) - On Saturday, March 16, 2019, Tuskegee University installed its first female president, Dr. Lily McNair. McNair’s inauguration was a grand celebration that honored the storied history of Tuskegee University, one of the largest producers of African American nurses, aerospace engineers, social-workers, bio-ethicists and veterinarians in the country. McNair invited the nation to partner with Tuskegee to ensure that students, regardless of their economic situation, are able to attend Tuskegee University and experience this new era of leadership. The Alabama-West Florida Conference, via the Wesley Foundation, answered the call to support efforts to provide opportunities for more students to attend Tuskegee University. A nineteen-person delegation attended including:
Rev. Audrey Rodgers, Director of the Tuskegee Wesley Foundation;
Rev. June Jernigan, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Ministerial Services;
Rev. John Brooks, Director of Multicultural Ministries;
Rev. Ashley Davis, Director of Connectional Ministries;
Deaconess Celeste Eubanks, Director of Leadership Strategies;
Dr. Jeff Wilson, Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent;
Rev. Robin Wilson, Senior Pastor of Opelika FUMC;
Rev. John Russell, Pastor of St. John United Methodist Church;
Rev. Richard Williams, Associate Pastor of Aldersgate UMC.
Proceeds from the gala generated more than $600,000 in scholarships for promising students at Tuskegee University. Specifically, the Alabama-West Florida Conference's participation in this historic event provided two Tuskegee Wesley students with funds that have allowed them to finish the spring semester without debt. The scholarship also helped the Tuskegee Wesley Foundation strengthen the relationship between the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and Tuskegee University by continuing the UMC tradition of investing in the educational and spiritual development of students.
Notably, the Methodist church paid for the education of famed Tuskegee scientist, George Washington Carver, whose experiments and discoveries with the peanut and soybean helped to propel the southern economy for years to come. Carver became a lifelong Methodist because of the investment and the support of the Methodist Church during his collegiate years. The students of the Tuskegee Wesley foundation have the same potential as George Washington Carver, and I am certain that the seeds the AWFUMC has sowed in their spiritual and educational development will yield the next lay and clergy leaders of the United Methodist Church. Partner with us as we continue to develop the next lay and clergy leaders by donating to the Tuskegee Wesley Foundation at https://www.tuwesley.org/donate
. It takes a village to create and fund the education of the next George Washington Carver.