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"Freed has allowed me to pursue both of my interests in life all in one place. Not many college students get the opportunity to oversee a mission trip to South America with their professors and be published for undergraduate research all in the same year."
Class of 2014 • Majoring In Biochemistry and Bible
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Studying for a comprehensive exam to earn your graduate degree is hard enough, but studying for one when your town is featured every night on the national news is a whole different story. Kelvin Pugh, preacher of the Midwest Church of Christ in Ferguson, Mo., recently found himself in that situation as he prepared to complete requirements for his Master of Ministry from Freed-Hardeman University.
Protests have plagued Ferguson since the shooting of Michael Brown in August, and the Nov. 24 decision by a grand jury led to further unrest in the town. Pugh said that the Midwest church building, located less than a mile from the Ferguson Police Department, has remained unharmed. “We’ve been fortunate. We’ve only needed to cancel Wednesday night services once because of street closings,” Pugh said.
According to Pugh, the Midwest congregation has not been discouraged by the protests; in fact, members have been seeking out ways to serve the Ferguson community. They visited the Canfield apartments where Brown was shot. “Our members have continued to pass out Bible literature and door-knock,” he said. “People from the community have come to the building for food and clothes, so we currently have an empty food pantry.”
The church also sent letters of encouragement to the city mayor and police chief. “We told them we were praying for them and for the Brown family,” Pugh said. The police chief responded with a letter thanking the congregation for their efforts.
“People often ask what they can do to help in this situation,” Pugh said. “I tell them to pray for this area, and particularly pray for us as we work in this area. Pray for the hearts of all individuals involved, and pray that we’ll have a positive impact on them. In my experience, the Ferguson area has been very receptive of the Gospel.” In fact, the congregation has doubled in size since Pugh began working there in 2010 and now has approximately 70 members.
“Unfortunately, Freed-Hardeman’s Master of Ministry program does not have a class on dealing with protests,” Pugh said. Having earned his degree completely online, Pugh does attest to the convenience and practicality of the program. “What I learned in my Bible classes has been beneficial to both me and my congregation,” he said. “I use much of the information I gain in my sermons, and I designed my classes purposefully in order to produce the most growth.”
Pugh did not always intend to become a preacher, having worked as a data communications technician at Proctor and Gamble for 11 years. “I decided to attend the Memphis School of Preaching to expand my Bible knowledge, but upon graduating in June of 2002, I knew I had to preach,” he said.
Pugh has now completed the coursework and passed the comprehensive exams for the Master of Ministry. He will receive his degree Dec. 12, but he is not finished with schoolwork. He now plans to pursue a Master of Divinity from FHU. He and his wife of 23 years, Darlene, live in Belleville, Ill., about 30 minutes from Ferguson. They have three sons: Jordan, Jarrol and Jamar.
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