WACO, Texas (ABP) – A new scholarship at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary has been established as a tribute to a pastor and graduate of the school murdered March 3 in his church office.
Rather than letting the tragic death of Clint Dobson, pastor of NorthPointe Church in Arlington, Texas, have the final say, his family joined with friends at the seminary to establish the Clint Dobson Memorial Fund, a scholarship that will serve future seminary students in his memory.
According to the Baylor Lariat, Dobson’s brother and sister – Chris Kirchmer and Sarah Dobson Mitchell – developed the idea for a memorial fund and approached Truett officials.
“This was something, because of his love for Truett and Baylor, the family wanted to do,” said David Hardage, director of development at Truett. “They wanted to continue his ministry and establish a legacy of his life that would be difference making for years and decades to come.”
Dobson’s siblings said they are doing it not just to remember their brother but as way to continue the ministry he started.
“It’s more personal than just being in his memory,” Kirchmer said. “For us, we see this as our final gift for Clint but beyond that, it’s important because we believe in what he was doing. There is going to be an opportunity for someone, even if it’s not Clint, to continue with that ministry.”
The fund will become an officially endowed George W. Truett Theological Seminary scholarship in the amount of $50,000. The family plans for the scholarship to specifically aid students who want to enter a pastoral profession.
Dobson, 28, was a Baylor graduate who originally planned to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, but after Hurricane Katrina temporarily closed the school he returned to Waco to enter Truett. He excelled as a student, winning a preaching award in 2008, and developed an interest in service to the poor.
“Baylor was where he got his calling, and his experience at Truett was an amazing one,” Mitchell said. “This is our chance to give back to Truett and help someone else who wants to go into the ministry or pastor a church.”
After graduating from Truett in 2008, Dobson became pastor of NorthPointe Church, an older congregation being revitalized under a new name as a mission point with aid from First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas. He died there during a robbery on the afternoon of Thursday, March 3. Two men have been charged with his murder.
The attack also seriously injured Judy Elliott, a 67-year-old ministry assistant at the church. Family members have refused to discuss her injuries with the media, but her son, Brad Elliott, gave a report on her recovery progress March 29 at a seminar on church safety in Cleburne, Texas.
Elliott said his mother was “up walking” and able to talk with the help of a voice box.
“The church is standing strong, standing together, and we’re going to get through this with the prayers from the rest of you,” Elliott said, quoted by the Cleburne Times-Review. “I can’t thank you guys enough for the prayers you’ve voiced for us. We can see those prayers being answered every day.”
The seminar, which was planned prior to the March 3 attack, also featured Jeff Laster, minister to adults and mission at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, site of a 1999 shooting that killed five and wounded seven more.
On Sept. 15 that year, Larry Gene Ashbrook entered the church during a community youth rally and opened fire. The melee ended when he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
Laster told police, local officials and ministers at the conference that he still doesn’t know why God allowed the church shooting to happen, but since then the aftermath story has ministered to many people all over the world.
Baylor officials said they hope the new scholarship fund will serve to comfort and encourage family members and friends still mourning the loss of Dobson.
“We can’t make sense out of it,” David Garland, seminary dean,” told the Lariat, “but we can make something good come out of tragedy.”
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.