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Sara Eaton receives Christian education scholarship

Anderson University senior Sara Eaton majoring in Bible and Religion, from LaGrange, Ind., was recently selected as the 2014 recipient of the Billie Roy and Pearl Toon Smith Endowed Christian Education Scholarship Award. The scholarship was presented to Eaton on April 16 by the Department of Religious Studies during a luncheon in the Olt Student Center.

The purpose of the scholarship is to support, enhance, and promote the academic study of Christian education and assist Christian education student scholars in their academic work as they prepare for careers and lives of service in the academy, the church, and the world.

 “Sara has been a diligent student and has prepared well for further service through her diversity of studies and ministry commitment,” said Dr. Alan Overstreet, associate professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies. “She thinks broadly about the possibilities in Christian education and has demonstrated an interest in meaningful service by which to respond faithfully to the needs of others.”

Eaton, who recently preached at AUCME (AU Center for Ministry Education) chapel, is minoring in Christian ministries and psychology. After graduation Eaton plans to serve at Cornerstone Community Church in Colon, Mich., as a worship leader and leader of a new young-married ministry. She will also be working at an organization called Compassion Pregnancy Center, where she will be the abstinence coordinator.

 “I am honored to be the 2014 Smith scholarship award recipient,” said Eaton. “To know that there are people making this step of faith in supporting students for further education is a blessing, and to be the beneficiary of that is quite the privilege.”

Originally from Alabama, Billie Roy Smith felt a call to ministry in 1946 and moved with Pearl and their young daughter to Anderson, Ind., where he enrolled at Anderson University. Pearl supported the family by working second shift at Guide Lamp. The family attended Park Place Church of God where Pearl was touched by the teaching of Carl Kardatzke in their Sunday school class. Kardatzke’s classes created a desire in Pearl to study Christian education, and she decided to take several classes sponsored by the Church of God. Over the years, Pearl taught Sunday school and served on the state board of Christian education for the Alabama Women of the Church of God.

In 1996 Billie Roy Smith, B. Th. ’49, honored the life and memory of his wife of 54 years, Pearl Toon Smith, by endowing a Christian education lectureship. From 1997 to 2007 renowned Christian education scholars and practitioners presented lectures and discussions in their areas of expertise to university students, faculty, pastors, church leaders, and others interested in the field of Christian education. In 2007 the Smith and Stephens family converted the lecture series into an endowed scholarship honoring the stewardship and the dedicated and faithful Christian lives and ministries of both Billie Roy and Pearl Toon Smith.

Past recipients of the scholarship award include Xen Riggs, Hannah Adams Ingram, Suzanne (Drayer) Kellam, Keith Sayer, Daniel Kelsey, and Rawlin Kegley.

“I want to sincerely thank the family of Pearl Toon Smith for this gift, and for the passion they hold for students to continue careers of academia and service in the life of the church, and in the world”, said Eaton.