“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NRSV).
Unlike most couples, Bradley and Tara Chamblee have the unique experience of both being called to ministry and attending seminary alongside one another.
Bradley was raised and spent a majority of his life in Coffee County, Alabama, as part of the United Methodist Church. Tara grew up in Panama City, Florida, and, as the daughter of a United Methodist pastor, has been part of the AWF Conference since 4th grade.
Tara started her college education as an elementary school teacher and changed to collaborative education (special needs) before she realized full-time ministry, not public school education, was God’s calling on her life. Similarly, Bradley felt a call to ministry and took a position as music director at Hartford UMC following in his father’s footsteps. After accepting this position, he felt a direct call to pastoral ministry.
Both Bradley and Tara set their sights on seminary, came up with a plan to move forward, and started the candidacy process together. They attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and continued to grow closer together. “We compliment each other well and understand each other because we are going through the same things” stated Bradley. Tara echoed “Where one of us is weak the other is strong and vice versa.”
Tara shared a verse that helped her through many rough patches; Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (NRSV).
A running joke between the two, Tara shared, was “that having a two clergy couple (in school) is like having twins; double everything.” Tara explained that though they both had jobs and took mainly online classes, there are a lot of expenses people do not think about for online and commuting studies like hotel costs for a week, eating out, gas, and wear and tear on the car. Students taking online classes also have tuition, bills, and rent along with commuting costs for required on-campus hours.
The Chamblees received assistance from the Alabama – West Florida United Methodist Foundation throughout seminary and were encouraged by, and extremely grateful for, the scholarships. “It is a large undertaking,” said Bradley. They saw the financial aid as their supporters saying “we believe in you and your calling.”
Both Bradley and Tara graduated with a Master of Divinity and plan to become provisional elders at the 2017 Annual Conference. When asked if they had always intended on returning to the AWF Conference, Tara replied “This has always been home. We have never felt a pull to go somewhere else.” By taking mainly online classes while serving in the AWF Conference, the Chamblees were able to build relationships with churches and mentors that helped with the transition during and after seminary.
Bradley’s current charges are Westside UMC, in Geneva, Alabama, where he has served for three years, and St. Paul UMC, in Geneva, Alabama, where he has served for one year. He has played a key role in building the Wednesday night program; including a thriving youth service he often leads.
Tara has been serving at Asbury UMC in Ozark for nine months. When she arrived, there was a need for healing and stability. “We have seen church attendance become more stable, morale boosted, and a passion for sharing the Gospel ignited within the congregation” she exclaimed. Tara is excited about what is happening at Asbury UMC and for what is to come.
Do you know seminary students, or someone interested in seminary, like Bradley and Tara who could benefit from the help of scholarships? Would you like to make scholarship endowments a reality in your church? Call or email us at 334-793-6820 or [email protected] if you are interested in setting up a ministerial scholarship endowment in your church.