As I reflect on the year I graduated from Bastrop High School in 1993, many of my friends went to college straight after high school and never stopped until they obtained a master or doctorate degree. My path was a little different. 

My journey in higher education started back in 2012 when Pastor Arthur Lane of the St. Matthew Baptist Church forced me to enroll at SCS. I took a single class, and it felt like God turned a light on. Before I knew it, I was graduating with my certificate in 2014, and I was not finished nor satisfied. I had to keep going.

With the fire of learning burning in my soul, I started working towards the diploma. Because of Stark’s tiered programming, I was then able to apply the coursework I did for the certificate and diploma to a bachelor of arts in ministry. I enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University through their partnership with SCS and started pursuing my undergraduate degree. In 2017, I was accepted into the Master of Divinity program through the Logsdon Seminary extension at SCS. 

When SCS earned accreditation for their own Master of Arts in Ministry degree, I felt called to transfer over to their program. The choice I made was a direct result of prayer, and guidance from God. Our president Dr. Celelli often makes the statement that our professors are “practitioner – scholars” meaning they are not just teaching to teach, but they are teaching what they practice and preach daily. Their dedication to the local church and community has given my education a whole new practical dimension that directly impacts how I pastor my own church, Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Beeville, Texas.  It is refreshing to put into practice what I have learned these past few years.

Now, after so many years of working my way up through all of the programs, I can humbly announce I will be graduating with a Master of Arts in Ministry this year. When I look back at all of the incredible people I met and opportunities I was given at Stark College & Seminary, I know God placed me here at the right time. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays said, “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” Time moves on with or without us, but we can accomplish a lot with the time we have. I for one will always be thankful God called me to spend my time pursuing an education at Stark College & Seminary.

Pastor Eric Tarver is the pastor of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Beeville, Texas and the Director of Church Relations at Stark College & Seminary.