FUNDation Strong: Providing a Learning Laboratory

Where does one go to learn to be a pastor? Seminary is the obvious answer and undoubtedly the main ingredient in the preparation of a pastor. In fact, our church and Foundation have supported 132 seminarians since the early 1960s.

However another key ingredient is immersion in the local church. The result is the production of a well-qualified and trained candidate for pastoral ministry.  

The Foundation, through the assistance of the Charlie Gillespie Fund, has trained ten such individuals.  Mr. Charlie, as he was referred to and for whom the fund is named, served our church as a long time elder beginning in 1924, as a teacher and an author, as well as a Moderator of the General Assembly. Prior to 1917 he organized the first Boy Scout Troup at Second and became its Scoutmaster. He died in the late 1970s. 

A Lily Foundation study done some time ago showed that one-third of all seminary graduates left the ministry within five years; one-third continued but were extremely unhappy; and one-third were happy in their calling. However, the majority of the participants of our church’s intensive program that allows ministry immersion on a daily basis have expressed satisfaction in their respective ministries and are making significant contributions to the Kingdom. The training and preparation for ministry they have received additionally enables them to serve as good mentors to the next generation.

Over $419,000 has been invested in the training of these individuals from a combination of the Gillespie Fund and the Undesignated Fund. 

The Impact of the Pastoral Residency Program


Chuck Jacob, former assistant pastor at Second, served as a pastoral intern for one year beginning in 1998. Based on the success of that internship, the Pastoral Internship Program (now Pastoral Residency Program – PRP) officially began in 1999, in order to prepare seminarians for pastoral ministry. Over the 18-month average of the program, students complete their practical training in partnership with Second Presbyterian after completing their theological studies at a seminary. They receive church-based mentoring and instruction in practical theology and ministry, taking credit courses such as pastoral counseling, worship, preaching, missions, evangelism, and spiritual life development. Students have come to the program from four seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) Jackson, RTS Orlando, Gordon-Conwell, and Covenant. 

The Lord has used each PRP graduate in His work throughout the country:

Chuck Jacob: Senior Pastor at Church of the Good Shepherd, Durham, North Carolina and former Senior Pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Sean Brandt: Served for seven years as a pastor in Wichita, Kansas. Currently works for FedEx Ground, to better provide for his family’s needs

David Nelson: Former Assistant Pastor in Christian education and young couples ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Stanley, North Carolina

Peter Wang: Pastor of Grace Redeemer Church, Glen Rock, New Jersey which is a plant of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City, New York

Chuck Colson: Senior Pastor of Christ Church (PCA), Mandarin, Florida and former church planter and Rector of Church of the Ascension in Arlington, Virginia

Ryan McVicar: Church planter and Pastor of New City Presbyterian (PCA), Detroit, Michigan 

David Stenberg: Counselor with Christian Psychological Center in Memphis and formerly Assistant Pastor at All Saints Presbyterian, Midtown Memphis, Tennessee 

Barton Kimbro: Assistant Pastor at Second Presbyterian, Memphis, Tennessee

Michael Davis: Pastor at Downtown Church, Memphis, Tennessee

Josh Preston:  Current resident working with Pastor George Robertson

chuck redo-crop-u14293.jpg

Chuck Colson remarked on his experience. “ I learned a great deal about my strengths and weakness as an individual, the dynamics and challenges of working on a staff team, and the challenge of communicating the Bible to people in winsome and loving ways. Most importantly, I was able to develop my own ideas about what kind of pastor I wanted to be when I grew up. This was invaluable. 

“The experience exposed me to the broad array of skills a pastor must possess. The congregation was patient in allowing me to develop in these different capacities, although I imagine some of it was rather painful for them! However, the greatest gifts Second gave me was the opportunity to learn about people – their struggles, hopes, failures, and dreams. In the work of a pastor, God and people are inseparable. The program allowed me to dip my toe into that great ocean of learning. It shaped me in profound ways, and subsequently bears fruit to God’s glory.”

With the combination of sound theology, practical ministry experience, and mentor relationships that PRP provides, residents have left the program prepared to serve in the pastoral roles to which they were called.

In recent years, our church has launched LAUNCH, which is also a pastoral residency program. The distinctive of LAUNCH is that participants typically take all or almost all of seminary classes online or through intensive one-week formats during the time that they reside for four years in the program. The Foundation participates by providing for their seminary expenses.  



Members of Second recently took advantage of a well-presented session on estate planning. Local attorney and Second member Josh Baker provided practical information on the topic. 

The session provided a basic understanding of legal terms and the purpose of legal documents so that attendees could become conversant with their professional advisor and make informed decisions in order to achieve their objectives. 

Topics covered included:

  • Wills

  • Trusts

  • Powers of Attorney

  • Basic Federal and Tennessee Estate Planning

  • Living Wills 

  • Lifetime Gifts and Transfers

In case you missed it or you want to hear it again, the session is available to be listened to along with viewing the powerpoint presentation. Listen here. View the powerpoint here. See Josh’s handout here.

 Contact or at (901) 507-7898 if the Foundation can answer any questions that you and/or your advisor may have.

Alcy Ball Development Corporation: Restoring, Equipping, and Facilitating

About ABDC

The Alcy Ball Development Corporation (ABDC) is a ministry minded organization that emerged as a result of long-term relationships between Mission Memphis; 2PC volunteers; Repairing the Breach, a ministry directed to children in the Alcy Ball community; and Pastor Tony Wade of Divine Life Church. Pastor Wade facilitated the initial success by making many introductions and helping those from Second and the local leaders form relationships. 

Alcy Ball Development Corporation develops a common platform where local leaders can gather to empower their neighbors. ABDC increases access to resources that facilitate the transition of leadership to the next generation of residents. This local leadership creates opportunities for families to thrive in the neighborhood through volunteer opportunities, healthy financial practices, affordable housing, and holistic involvement with the local church.


In 2016, the organization hired a new Executive Director, Chris Oliver and a new Program Director, Seth Harkins. Both are devoted followers of Christ and experienced in building cross-cultural relationships. Their prior work equipped them for the long perspective and dependence upon The Lord needed for this type of grassroots economic and social development. Chris was a Second Presbyterian Fellow in the 2009-10 Class. 

Chris focuses on relationships with churches, organizations, and residents in the community, while Seth focuses on relationships with businesses, schools, and residents in the community.

The current Board consists of Apostle Tony Wade, Mr. A Thompson, Mr. Ethan Knight, and Mrs. Sharon Payne. The board members play an integral part in directing the organization; connecting with the Alcy Ball community; connecting with non-neighborhood resources; and realizing the vision of a renewed community.   

In addition, many members of Second lend their professional skills, financial support, prayer support, volunteer support, and networking abilities to the ministry. 



The mission of ABDC is to restore the prosperity and health of the Alcy Ball community through economic, social, and educational development. The vision for a healthy neighborhood realized through empowering local leaders depends upon relationships with the neighborhood’s established organizations and churches.  The goal is to reach the community alongside the local churches, connecting participants to churches and leading to holistic change and care. Relationships have been built with these groups and those leading the organization have learned the strengths and needs of the community from listening and from conversations with residents and stakeholders. 

The result is the identification of three strategic focus areas for programming: Financial Literacy and Education, Community Organizing and Advocacy, and Neighborhood Revitalization. As they work in these areas, they foster relationships with key individuals who can facilitate partnerships and multiply the leadership that will serve the neighborhood in years to come. 

Financial Literacy Education

Since 2016, ABDC has focused on helping families learn financial practices and steward their income. They serve the area by offering Faith & Financesand in-home budget counseling – having 18 participants since inception. The Financial Literacy program is offered in collaboration with either local churches or other neighborhood organizations. In addition, three savings accounts have been opened; four families have increased their credit score and are paying off debt; and one family was helped as they purchased a home. The consistency in relationships is paying off through credibility in the neighborhood.  

Community Organizing and Advocacy

Due to increased credibility in the neighborhood, stronger communication and trust has been gained with those living in Alcy Ball. Community organizing consists of supporting the community associations, as well as other grass roots organizations in the area. Additionally, ABDC organizes events in the community towards the development of the neighborhood such as meetings with the City of Memphis; meetings between business leaders; etc.  As they pursue the principles of Christian Community Development, one goal is to create strong relationships between neighborhood leaders and resources outside the neighborhood such as Clean Memphis, Serve 901, MAM, Barnhart Crane & Rigging, local churches, and other companies and organizations. Neighbors have joined in Police Joint Association meetings. Residents are assisting the staff by gathering complaints against negligent property owners and attend hearings about specific properties. These activities are engaging more residents in the process of self-advocacy.

Examples of members of Second engaging with Alcy Ball include Steve Shular, Special Assistant to the City Mayor, as he runs the Police Joint Association meetings; and Kevin Stout, as he serves as a liaison with Barnhart Crane; has hired a local resident; and volunteers for community cleanups. 

Neighborhood Revitalization

By starting small and involving neighborhood input, ABDC is developing a long term plan for neighborhood revitalization that will benefit residents without forcing them to relocate out of the neighborhood. This effort includes removing brush to make yards maintainable, boarding up abandoned houses, calling attention to major Code Enforcement infractions, moving endangered buildings toward demolition, and monitoring Environmental Court cases against delinquent owners. 

ABDC is efficient at this work when it partners with others for the benefit of residents. For example, the staff supported the process for two longtime Alcy Ball homeowners to apply for Habitat for Humanity’s “Aging in Place” program by helping them attend meetings, fill out paperwork, and gather documentation for the application to repair their damaged roofs. ABDC’s ability to support this process led to other engaged community members, who are now advocating on behalf of their own neighbors for more services in the Alcy Ball area. 

Connect with ABDC at

Worshipful Giving Out of Thankfulness

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15

Our response to what our Lord clearly initiated and completed on our behalf is thankfulness expressed in our worship of the triune God. Worship takes on many forms and includes worshipful giving.

Worshipful giving reveals the heart and instructs the heart.

Worshipful giving brings adoration to the Lord and not to the world.

Worshipful giving is a mark of true worship.

Worshipful giving is planned.

Worshipful giving is proportional.

Worshipful giving is sacrificial.

Worshipful giving is transformational.

Worshipful giving deeply blesses the giver and the receiver.

 If the Foundation can assist you in planning or making a gift please contact the office or give here.

FUNDation Strong: Seminarians at the Heart of the Mission

The history of Second’s commitment to funding seminarians who are members of our church goes back at least to the early 1960s. When researching those old and sometimes yellowed records, one has to smile at the quite literal “carbon copies” of documents; the formality and length of hand written letters of correspondence; the odd shaped forms of promissory notes for student loans to be forgiven if engaged in full time Christian work; and most notably the price of seminary in those days. 

The Wills and Endowment Committee of the Session – the forerunner to the Foundation – facilitated support for about 65 seminarians until 1998 when its work came to a conclusion as it granted its pool of resources – almost $3,000,000 – to seed this then new organization, the Second Presbyterian Church Foundation.

Foundation Letter Image.jpg

So it is appropriate that support for seminarians is arguably a core mission and priority of the Foundation. As part of the transition, the Foundation assumed responsibility for six funds that were established either from bequests or memorials given.  The majority were given in the mid 1980s.

For those who have been at Second for a while, the names on these funds will resonate – Earl Hooks, Dr. Jim Hazelwood, Blanch Pence, Martha Stewart, William Crosby and Sara Vanfossan. For most others the names will not ring a bell, but the ongoing impact of these funds is mighty. Together they established an early pattern of dedicated support for this form of intensive preparation for ministry.

Due to the nature of the funds established in another economic time, the current total of these funds is $185,000, which nets approximately $9,000 per year. In today’s economy, that covers expenses for less than one year for one student.  

However, because of the historical commitment to providing support for our members called to full time ministry and the long term proven results, the Foundation Board marries funds from its undesignated fund to make up the difference in what is needed from year to year. For instance this year the total commitment is $240,000 for 30 seminarians.

 Ideally the Foundation will one day have enough resources housed in a dedicated fund that will meet the expense needs for our seminarians, freeing up those undesignated dollars for missional work at home and abroad. 

So what is the result of the $993,000 that has been spent in the first twenty years? Immeasurable Fruit. There have been 67 students supported with an even more number of degrees earned. Degrees such as Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling.

Foundation Barr Price Pic w Caption.jpg

Students obtained those degrees from institutions such as Reformed Theological Seminary either in Orlando, Charlotte, Jackson or as part of the RTS Global Education program; Covenant Seminary in St. Louis; or Gordon Conwell Seminary near Boston and in Charlotte, among others. 

Seminarians are still required to continue into full-time Christian ministry upon graduation and the overwhelming majority of those supported remain in Christian service today. They are ordained pastors; hold non-ordained positions of leadership in churches; serve as counselors in a Christian setting; are missionaries in foreign lands; serve in many and various types of para-church organizations; and work in Christian educational environments.

The stories and the fruit are voluminous. Ten seminarians have been featured over the past year as we have learned in detail how they are sounding forth the gospel in various parts of the world.

The success of this investment is rooted in the thorough examination and application processes that candidates are subject to – for the good of all. The Foundation works with the pastoral staff of the church and the Christian Psychological Center. Lay mentors are assigned for the length of seminary and two years beyond.  

More that just continuing and improving an effort begun many years ago, the Grants Committee of the Foundation constantly asks what is the prevailing purpose of an investment this large. For instance, with the inception of the LAUNCH pastoral residency program a few years ago, it was determined that support would be provided for their seminary studies as well. The basic answer however is the reminder that we provide partial support for our members while they are taking theological training to the end that they may be able to give themselves more fully to intensive study and preparation for serving our Lord Jesus Christ in full time Christian service.

Praise the Lord that so many have been raised up out of Second Presbyterian Church for this intensive mission.

2017-18 Grants Reach New High

The following grants were made during this last fiscal year, making it the highest year in the 20-year history of the Foundation in terms of funds granted. They include grants from the undesignated fund and many designated funds. Additionally, grants were made to eligible ministries from donor advised funds.


Home Missions
Esperanza                              $85,000
Alcy Ball Development Corporation      $75,000
Downtown Church                        $45,000
My Cup of Tea Ministry                 $25,000
NCC College Scholarships               $89,850

World Missions

2PC World Missions                    $135,950
First Greek Evangelical – Athens       $40,000
Intercultural Church                   $40,000
Planting Network – Netherlands
Philemon Project – Beirut              $40,000
Covenant Hope Church- Dubai            $35,000
China Partnership                      $31,000
Mozambique                             $25,781
Intercultural Church                   $15,000
Planting Network – Europe                     

Christian Leadership Development

Seminarian Scholarships               $181,855
Youth Internships                      $59,000
Pastoral Internships                   $24,000
Christian Psychological Center         $20,000
ECS Scholarships                       $15,700
Youth Donor Advised Funds              $12,000
Presbyterian Day School Scholarships   $11,500
PDS Young Scholars Program             $11,235
Children’s Music Ministry              $10,000
Music Ministry Internships              $8,200
Fellows Program and Scholarships        $6,250
College Music Scholarships              $4,200
French Camp Academy Scholarships        $4,000
Children’s Ministry                     $2,500
Library                                 $1,560
Conservatory Scholarships               $1,500

Subtotal                            $1,056,081

Donor Advised Grants                $1,192,441 

TOTAL                               $2,248,522

Sounding Forth: Truth and Love

Laurence Towner is a counselor with Sage Hill Counseling in Memphis and is a fifth generation member of Second.  She is daughter of Kathleen and Jud Towner; sister of Buck and Katherine Towner; and granddaughter of Ginny and Justin Towner. She received support from the Foundation to attend Dallas Theological Seminary, where she received her Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling in 2015.

As a graduate student, she began her practicum and internship work with Windhaven House, a sober living facility for women struggling with substance abuse and addiction. She later joined their counseling team, which included individual counseling as well as an Intensive Outpatient Program designed specifically for women an their families. She became very familiar with the 12 steps of recovery, as well as the freedom that can be found within the binds of addiction.

Hear, in Laurence’s words, her seminary experience and what it prepared her for:

My experience in seminary was the time in which I grew in my understanding of God’s faithfulness and love.  This process wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Foundation and Second Presbyterian Church. I left my job and became a full time student and had to learn what it meant to fully trust the Lord with every area of my life and surrender any control or perceived comfort. I was able to see the Lord provide in ways I could never imagine and continue to return to these times and remember His faithfulness in the difficult times of navigating through private practice and trusting the Lord will continue to provide.

My time in seminary prepared me specifically for making Christ the center of all things. During my time in seminary it was easy to find my identity in my schoolwork, getting the perfect internship opportunity, gaining the most Bible knowledge, or landing a great job once I graduated.  While I desire good things, they will never fulfill Christ’s place in my heart.  It was a struggle to balance studying the Bible to maintain my grades and reading God’s Word out of a desire to live and know Him more. I have been richly blessed with the example of professors and fellow students to remind me of this Truth and always seek His Word.

While learning and growing in my knowledge and understanding of the nature of Christ, I also experienced the most loneliness. It required me to push through discomfort and engage in community. Through my church and classmates I was able to establish community in Dallas and grow in my relationship with Christ and others. This is foundational to my personal growth and must be in place in order for me to care for others especially in a ministry setting.

Seminary was a time of joy as well as deep suffering and pain. I learned a lot about my sin and myself. While I came to understand more of my humanness, the Lord revealed more of Himself, His love, and His grace.  Our seminary requires students in the counseling program to be involved in their own weekly counseling. This time prepared me to continue to learn more about myself while learning more about God and who He says I am in Christ. One of the most valuable things I learned in seminary is the reality that there is always something new to be learned about God. It is a continual experience of knowing more and growing more with my Creator. It instilled a desire to continue to seek God through the His Word and relationship, and celebrating who He created me to be.

Everything I learned in seminary directly impacts the way in which I am able to counsel other people. In the midst of my inconsistency, the Lord in His character is absolutely consistent and unchanging which provides the foundation and strength to be the person He has called me to be. He has faithfully provided each and every step of the way and I trust He will continue to do the same through my ministry.

Ministry opportunities with which she had been engaged both during and since seminary

When I decided to go to seminary, I went with the hopes of getting a degree in Biblical Counseling to work specifically with women struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. My ministry experience includes working with a women’s sober living home, providing counseling and a consistent presence for women struggling with substance abuse and addiction. I’ve been able to share my own story of recovery and God’s faithfulness praying it may provide hope to those who are broken and suffering. My time with Windhaven House Sober Living in Texas changed my understanding of addicts and alcoholics and allowed me to understand on a greater level the heart issues occurring in humanity and our deep need for a Savior. Windhaven House expanded to Windhaven Counseling Center, which included individual therapy, family therapy, and Intensive Outpatient Program. Currently, I am in private practice with Sage Hill Counseling in Memphis serving a range of ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances with Christian counseling.

Highlights of her current ministry position

My current position as a therapist with Sage Hill has been an absolute joy. The Lord has affirmed my desire to sit with people who are struggling and desire change or some who desire to learn about more themselves. I believe counseling provides a space and relationship unlike anything else we have experienced. It is a joy to sit with clients and experience change, as they are able to see who God created them to be, finding freedom in that identity, and moving towards change. I absolutely love my clients and each one brings unique gifts to their own process. I delight in sharing that space with these people and seeing how the Lord uses the time and works in their hearts as well as mine. I’ve always enjoyed people and it is a gift to share in the hurts, pain, shame, wounds, accomplishments, excitement, and joy with someone else. My hope is for each client to know what it means to be created in God’s image and Sage Hill Counseling does an incredible job of stewarding this Truth.

Lifetime ministry goals

 My lifetime ministry goal is to open a sober living home for women that is Christ centered. I have a passion to work with those feeling enslaved to their addiction and experiencing true freedom in the truth of Christ’s work on the cross. I hope I will always be involved in private practice in some capacity because I’m able to sit with people struggling with different issues but seeking growth and change.

Her biggest takeaway from seminary

Each day in one way, shape, or form I reach for something I learned or experienced during my time in seminary.  Dallas Theological Seminary’s motto is “Teach Truth. Love Well.” This is something the professor’s and community instilled in me since my first day on campus and I hope it is something that continues with my life and ministry. I pray that I always want to learn and teach Truth, and love others because of the deep saving love I’ve been shown through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Seminar Offers Basic Estate Planning

Do you need practical, useful and not overly technical information about relevant estate planning issues so that you can begin to order your estate or revisit your current plans due to changes in law or the passage of time?

Great news! This fall you will have an opportunity to get this information as part of a free six-session MidWeek class in the comfortable and familiar setting of our church. The class, entitled "Basics of Personal Finance and Estate Planning," will focus on issues surrounding financial responsibility for today’s Christian family.

The purpose of the last two sessions, which will be held on November 7 and 14, is to present ways for those attending to plan their family’s affairs in such ways that will avoid undesired financial, legal, and tax problems, and to clearly explain the vehicles that provide solutions to their goals. Local attorneys with expertise in these fields will conduct the sessions.

November 7th Session
This session is designed to provide a basic understanding of legal terms and the purpose of legal documents so that attendees may be conversant with their professional advisors and make informed decisions.

Topics covered include:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Basic Federal and Tennessee Estate Planning
  • Living Wills
  • Lifetime Gifts and Transfers

November 14th Session
This powerful presentation is designed to identify the key issues surrounding estate planning and in doing so, educate and motivate attendees to take appropriate action.

Topics covered include:

  • The changing world of estate planning and taxes – things you need to know
  • Estate planning challenges every family must face
  • Top 10 mistakes most families make
  • Brief history of the death tax and where it is going
  • Issues Congress must confront
  • How assets pass at death
  • Issues we must confront as we get older

Be on the look out for the entire six-week description in the fall MidWeek brochure soon. You don’t want to miss this series!

Ligon Duncan to Speak at 20th Anniversary Dinner

The evening of Friday, April 6th has been set aside to celebrate, learn more about the impact of the Foundation, and be encouraged by guest speaker Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, III, Chancellor, CEO and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Duncan may be remembered as the key worship leader some years ago at the community-wide reformation service held at Second.

A native of South Carolina, Dr. Duncan received his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and supplied churches in Britain. In addition to serving on the faculty of RTS, his pastoral ministry for over three decades and four congregations includes that of Senior Pastor at historic First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He became Chancellor/CEO of RTS in 2013. He has authored or contributed to 35 books, is active in the Presbyterian Church of America, and has frequently addressed audiences here and abroad.

Make plans to attend this free dinner event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

Make your reservations online (one registration is required for each person attending).

Click Here to RSVP

FUNdation Fridays

FUNdation Fridays

May 19, 2018 will mark 20 years since the formation of the Second Presbyterian Church Foundation! As a part of acknowledgement throughout the 20th year and leading up to the celebratory event on April 6th, 2018, a monthly event will highlight congregational passion toward the ministry partners of our church and provide a thank you opportunity from the Foundation in recognition of our generous and charitable congregation. The details of this unique and enterprising endeavor, which is also designed to inform the congregation about the mission and work of the Foundation, are below.