JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Paying for college can be quite the challenge for some families, especially during a pandemic. But students of a Jacksonville church left their worship service Sunday with funds to help further their education.
Bethel Baptist Institutional Church awarded 85 students with scholarships worth at least $1,000 for tuition, books and other fees.
For the past 20 years, Bethel has held an annual walk-a-thon in July to raise funds to support this initiative, but like most things, due to the pandemic it was canceled.
The church hosted a six-hour virtual "Scholarthon" instead, raising $100,785 for students attending school in the fall.
Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr., lead pastor of Bethel, says this was only possible because of the church's generous giving.
“This was not in partnership with corporate sponsors, who gave us matching funds,” McKissick said during Sunday’s service. "Every dime that we are able to give these students, is because of your [members] giving."
Some students came into town from school for the weekend to accept their scholarship.
Taevion Johnson, a freshman at Alabama State University says the scholarship will help with paying out of state fees.
"Just the out of state fees alone can be very rigorous. So, this money will give a little air to breathe," Johnson said.
Jamya Price, a sophomore at Florida State College at Jacksonville says she's thankful to be a part of a ministry that helps students in their time of need.
"Not a lot of churches support education like Bethel does,” Price said.
Bethel plans to raise the goal each year to support higher education.