JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Baptist Historical Commission awarded four scholarships to students in four Missouri Southern Baptist colleges and universities. In their spring meeting at the Baptist Building, April 18, the commissioners selected the winners of the scholarships from research papers the students had submitted. The commission was pleased that every MBC affiliated university, plus Spurgeon College at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, had entries.
Students were asked to submit a research paper on some aspect of Missouri Baptist history.
The students will receive a $2,000 scholarship for the next academic year. Half of the funding comes from the MBC Cooperative Program, and the other half comes from their institution.
The four winners are: Caleb Brittain, Southwest Baptist University (from Knob Noster); Morgan Smith, Missouri
Baptist University (from Wright City); Gabriel Gard, Hannibal-LaGrange University (from Eureka) and Ezra Richardson, Spurgeon College (from Thorp, Washington).
The Pathway spoke to the four scholarship recipients to ask them about their research, their college experiences and their future plans.
Caleb Brittain is currently attending community college in Sedalia and plans to transfer to SBU next year as a junior level student. He wrote about “The Early Development of Baptist Educational Institutions In Missouri, 1849-1906.” The paper caught the interest of Historical Commission members because he uncovered the fact that there were over 100 colleges, seminaries and academies begun by Baptists during this time period in the 19th Century.
Brittain focused on 17 of them, including three that presently still exist: William Jewel College, Southwest Baptist University and Hannibal-LaGrange University. There were institutions begun in Mexico, Pierce City, Farmington, St. Joseph, St. Louis, Kansas City, Edinburg and Marble Hill. And that is not the complete list!
The commissioners found that Brittain had really uncovered some facts they were not aware of. He said he combed the history books in his local public library and in the West Central Baptist Association office, where his father is the director of missions.
Brittain said he hopes to become a teacher when he finishes his studies at SBU majoring in speech and theater education. He said he likes history, especially world history, and is fascinated by the stories of the Greek and Roman empires.
Morgan Smith wrote about “The History of Baptist Missions to the Native Americans in Missouri.” She said it proved to be a little controversial as she discussed how many of the Native American tribes in Missouri were eventually forcefully relocated to reservations further west. The pioneer missionary who worked with many of these tribes, Isaac McCoy, was sympathetic to the relocation of these tribes, but he led several missions to reach them for Christ.
She said he worked most of his life trying to reach the Native American tribes in Missouri. Smith added that the relocation of the tribes is a sad part of U.S. history, but McCoy had good intentions as he tried to reach the natives for Christ.
Smith studies music-worship leadership at SBU, where she is a sophomore.
Gabriel Gard (HLGU) has been a previous winner of the Baptist Heritage scholarship (in 2021). This year, he wrote about “The History of Hannibal-LaGrange University.” He showed how the La Grange Male and Female Seminary, which had also been known as La Grange College, in La Grange, was merged with a new institution called Hannibal College, Hannibal. The two-school merger thrived, and the institution is now is serving northeast Missouri and western Illinois well as a Baptist university founded firmly on biblical principles.
Gard spoke of the massive fire in the late 1980s which devastated the campus, but which became the rallying point to see the campus facilities upgraded considerably.
Gard said he hopes to go into law enforcement and he is studying criminal justice. He said his dream job would be to become a U.S. Marshal. He likes HLGU and enjoys the Christian environment. He is a native of Eureka.
Ezra Richardson wrote about “Early Missouri Baptist History” and profiled missionaries John Mason Peck and John Clark, also known as “Father Clark.”
He traced the beginnings of Baptist work west of the Mississippi, in the early 1800s, and told of the hardships these early pioneer missionaries endured as they planted churches across Missouri.
Richardson is the son of missionaries to Central Asia. He is a junior at Spurgeon College, and he hopes to become a business leader with the attribute of generosity so he can give back to the missions efforts through the profits of his company. He has previously studied at Alaska Bible College before transferring to Spurgeon.
For students interested in applying for the Baptist Heritage scholarship next year, they should check the Historical Commission website at www.baptistparchments.org for information.