Earlier this month, an Austin church gave away $20,000 to 17 college students during an Aug. 3 scholarship concert. The event, held at Greater St. John Bible Church, 1256 N. Waller Ave., featured gospel acts such as Sir The Baptist and Lillian Lloyd of Ricky Dillard and New G.
Greater St. John's pastor, Rev. Ira Acree, said that 16 students were selected to receive $1,000 scholarships while one student received a $1,500 scholarship during the annual service. Acree also picked random college students from the audience to surprise them with monetary gifts of at least $100.
Acree said that the scholarship program has operated since 2001 and has given out more than $320,000 to Austin area students since it was created.
"If we are going to stem the tide on the violence, every institution must make an investment in our neighborhoods," Acree said. "Government can't do it alone! Everyone needs some skin in the game. I'm grateful to our members and partners for their sacrifice."
The ceremony took place a day after Acree helped organize an anti-violence march that shut down Lake Shore Drive.
"Pastor Ira Acree and Greater St. John are a role model for urban churches across the country," said Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, one of the lead organizers of the march and the president of the Coalition for a New Chicago.
"Acree has the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other, blessing his people with what some might call a Reality Christianity – in other words, one day he's marching for resources for the marginalized and the next day he's blessing our youth with the gift of education."
2018 scholarship recipients
Isayas Aris | Copper Mountain College
Paradize Brown | Lakeland University
Tralese Campbell | Lakeland University
Jaylan Crout | Columbia College
Carolyn Johnson | University of Illinois at Chicago
Kendall Jordan | Illinois State University
Courtney Lilly | Illinois State University
Crystal Lilly | University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor
Keionyae McNeal | Florida Memorial University
Marquan Morrison | Clark Atlanta University
Jamille Newson | Lakeland University
Brianna Patterson | University of Illinois – Springfield
Keondra Rollins | Elizabeth City State University
Cari Russell | Illinois State University
Jermesha Striblet | Bradley University
Donte Washington | Illinois State University
Jaidin Winfield | Jackson State University
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