This year, Ouachita Baptist University awarded the Garrett Ham Scholarship to Sara Patterson. This content uses referral links.
On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the Carl Goodson Honors Program and the Alpha Tau Honors Society held their annual Black and White Reception. Sara Patterson was named Ouachita Baptist University’s 2020 Garrett Ham Scholar at the event.
About the Garrett Ham Scholarship
2020 marks the twelfth year Ouachita Baptist University has awarded the Garrett Ham Scholarship. I established the scholarship in 2008 after my first year at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
It is an endowed scholarship and should, therefore, remain a permanent fixture at Ouachita Baptist University. Sara Patterson joins a growing list of Garrett Ham Scholars, which should continue to get larger by the year.
The application for the Garrett Ham Scholarship is available online here, and I encourage all qualified Ouachita students to apply. This scholarship has funded a diverse number of academic pursuits and exciting research projects, and I always enjoy seeing how students utilize these funds.
Past scholars have used the scholarship to purchase resources, attend academic conferences, and study abroad.
Ouachita’s Honors Council selects each year’s recipient with the final approval of the Dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies. (Dr. Danny Hays has held this role since the scholarship’s inception.)
Giving both the Honors Council and the Dean of the Pruet School a say in the selection of the award’s recipient ensures that the scholarship funds a project in keeping with the mission of the Honors Program while simultaneously remaining grounded in Christian Studies.
The recipient must be a Christian Studies or Biblical Languages major—if no applicants meet this qualification, Christian Studies minors may be considered—and preference is given toward funding the completion of a senior thesis.
I established the scholarship after my own experience at Ouachita. In 2007, I was the only theology student to complete a senior thesis. I found this disappointing, particularly at a school that prides itself on the academic study of Scripture.
Sara Patterson will join past recipients in breaking this trend, serving as an example of the importance of academic theological pursuits with a final work product that others after her can utilize and appreciate.
Scholarship and Church Leadership
I have always thought that pastors should have sound theology with at least some scholastic ability. It seems that the lack of such ability has helped give rise to much of the thin theological teachings prevalent today—the prosperity gospel, for example.
Nevertheless, while I established the scholarship as an attempt to address what I perceived to be a grievous lack of scholastic focus among those preparing for ministry, I have come to appreciate how deficient the academic study of Scripture alone is for Christian living.
I, therefore, hope that the academic pursuits that this scholarship promotes will be done in a context of the practice of the faith with a firm grounding in the communal rhythm of the Church.
In my life, when I have lost sight of the authority of the Church to teach and promote proper understanding of the practice of faith in personal communion with the person of Jesus Christ, all the scriptural knowledge in the world could not keep me from failure and sin.
I wish Sara Patterson the best and hope that she can pursue her academic pursuits in a manner both in keeping with academic excellence and consistent with promoting her own spiritual progress.
Writing a Senior Thesis
Writing my senior thesis was the most enjoyable academic project of my life to date. I wrote it on the debate over open theism’s place within evangelicalism. While the heat surrounding the issue has mostly faded, it was a pressing topic when I wrote about it in 2007.
Writing this thesis helped me to develop research skills that have been invaluable to me here at Yale Divinity School. I look forward to writing another thesis at the conclusion of my studies here.
I hope that Sara Patterson finds her experience as rewarding as I found mine.
Purpose of the Garrett Ham Scholarship
As I stated to above, I established the scholarship to encourage students like Sara Patterson to participate in the Honors Program.
Writing a thesis, a requirement of the Honors Program, can be expensive, particularly if done well. Proper research may require the utilization of materials not readily available in Ouachita’s library and sometimes travel to distant destinations.
By establishing this scholarship, I hoped to provide a means through which students like Sara Patterson could produce higher-quality work.
I was honored to receive the Ben Elrod Scholarship when I was a student at Ouachita. It allowed me to spend nearly three weeks retracing the footsteps of Paul through modern-day Turkey and Italy.
A younger me in Istanbul next to Constantine’s Hippodrome in 2006, a trip that the Ben Elrod Scholarship funded.
It is, therefore, gratifying to support talented students like Sara Patterson. The scholarship will provide Ms. Patterson with approximately $1,300 to meet her academic goals.
About Sara Patterson
Sara Patterson is a junior English major from Wylie, Texas. Even though she is not a Christian Studies major—the usual recipients of the scholarship—she will be using the funds to write a theological guidebook to C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.
The scholarship will help her to travel to England during the summer to visit Oxford—where Lewis studied—Cambridge—where he taught—and Lews’ home. (Though, I am unsure how the current COVID-19 pandemic will affect these plans.)
I wish Sara Patterson the best of luck, and I hope to have the opportunity to read her final work.
The 2019 Garrett Ham Scholar
Sara Patterson succeeds Mattie Dodson, the 2019 Garrett Ham Scholar. Ms. Dodson used the funds to spend two weeks in Italy with the sisters of San Luca while studying the lives of female saints.
About Ouachita Baptist University
Ouachita Baptist University is a liberal arts university located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I graduated from Ouachita in 2007, and I loved every minute of my time there.
Ouachita taught me how to explore new ideas, how to develop an openness to contrary positions, and how to consider my opponent’s point of view in its best possible light.
While obviously evangelical in its outlook, it did not push a fundamentalist or close-minded perspective, and it allowed me the freedom to engage with other viewpoints.
As a result, I believe that Ouachita has been able to produce individuals ready to think and engage with the broader world, rather than retreating into closed-off sects with isolationist tendencies. This has served me particularly well here at Yale University, where I am currently pursuing a Master of Divinity.
For more information about Ouachita, please visit http://www.obu.edu/. I’d encourage anyone who has had the chance to experience all the good that Ouachita does to consider donating to the University as well.