CBF names Baylor, Wake Forest seminarians as 2017 Vestal Scholarship recipients


May 31, 2017

By Carrie McGuffin

Chris Dean

Chris Dean

jenna sullivan

Jenna Sullivan

DECATUR, Ga. — Two Cooperative Baptist seminarians from Baylor University and Wake Forest University will be honored June 30 with the Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholarship at the CBF General Assembly in Atlanta. Christopher Dean, a student at Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary, and Jenna Sullivan, a student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, will be recognized during the Friday morning business session.

The Fellowship’s most prestigious scholarship, named in honor of former Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal and his wife, Earlene, was created in 2011 to further CBF’s 25-year commitment to theological education, and is a foundational element in the Fellowship’s focus on nurturing young Baptists.

Devita Parnell, manager of the CBF Young Baptist Ecosystem, emphasized that Dean and Sullivan exemplify CBF’s commitments to pursuing excellence and being Christ-like, innovative and authentic.

“Both Vestal Scholar recipients, Jenna Sullivan and Chris Dean, are well-rounded and grounded as students and scholars,” Parnell said. “They are natural born leaders who are well-respected by their peers and professors. They are modeling a faith that engages the world and life with their full selves, with both head and heart.

“I am inspired by their passion to serve and live out their callings even now as seminarians while remaining open to the various ways God is expanding their understanding of ministry. Both Chris and Jenna embody the attributes of Cooperative Baptists to pursue excellence in all things, to be authentic in their relationships and to approach ministry and their calling with innovation.”

Dean, a rising third-year student pursuing his Master of Divinity degree at Truett Seminary, is a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. With a passion for community development and student ministry, Dean has served four summers in various roles at PASSPORT Camps. At Truett, Dean is a student associate in the Office of Student Services, where he offers hospitality and assistance to prospective students.

Sullivan, a rising third-year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies with a minor in Africana Studies. With a call to congregational ministry, Sullivan has served as a congregational intern in two CBF churches — Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., and First Baptist Church on Fifth in Winston-Salem, N.C.

To learn more about the 2017 recipients of the Vestal Scholarship, listen to their interviews with creative storyteller Clark Hill.

Christopher Dean:

Jenna Sullivan:


CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry eff­orts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

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