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CBF names Laure FitzSimons and Antonio Vargas as 2023 Vestal Scholars

By Aaron Weaver

May 1, 2023

DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has selected first-year students Antonio Vargas of Yale Divinity School and Laure FitzSimons of Candler School of Theology at Emory University as the 2023 recipients of the Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholarship. 

The Fellowship’s most prestigious scholarship, named in honor of former CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal and his wife, Earlene, was created in 2011 to further CBF’s commitment to theological education. The annual scholarship is a foundational element in the Fellowship’s focus on nurturing young Baptists. Recipients of the Vestal Scholarship have demonstrated academic excellence and displayed a deep commitment to the local church and to CBF.

Antonio Vargas is a first-year student at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., and serves as associate pastor at Church of the City in New London leading the congregation’s English ministries. Serving in the church that raised him, Vargas has a passion and commitment to children and youth advocacy, education, justice and worship. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Culture at Gordon College in Boston, Mass., and in 2019 was selected as one of CBF’s 25 Young Baptists to Know.

Laure FitzSimons is a first-year student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, and serves as the children’s ministry associate at Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. For the past five summers, she has served with Passport Camps as an assistant director with Passportkids. She has previously served as a youth intern with Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga., and Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. FitzSimons is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion and Behavior.

Devita Parnell, director of CBF’s Young Baptist Ecosystem, lauded the leadership abilities and congregational experience of Vargas and FitzSimons.

“Antonio and Laure are already strong leaders with excellent congregational experience. They beautifully embody the spirit of this scholarship and honor the legacy of Daniel and Earlene Vestal who have a lifetime of ministry in service of the church,” Parnell said. “As students, they are finding ways to lead and serve within the life of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship through the work of their states and regions. We are blessed by their presence and look forward to how they will be a part of shaping our future together!”

Vestal Scholarship selection committee members from the CBF Ministries Council included: Josh James (The Restoration Project, Md.), Kan’Dace Brock (The Message Church, San Antonio, Tex.), Jamila Harper (Metanoia, North Charleston, S.C.), Sara Hunt-Felke (Bayshore Baptist Church, Tampa, Fla.), Bob Searl (Spring Creek Baptist, Oklahoma City, Okla.), Charles Qualls (Franklin Baptist, Franklin, Virg.), and Cecilia Walker (chaplain, Birmingham, Ala.). David Hull (Governing Board Member, Winston-Salem, N.C.), Caroline Smith (Missions Council member, Parkway Baptist Church, Duluth, Ga.), and Lauren McDuffie (Nominating Committee member, First Baptist Church, Morehead, Ky.) also served on the selection committee.

Vargas and FitzSimons will be recognized at the upcoming CBF General Assembly, June 28-30, in Atlanta. Learn more and register for free at

CBF Foundation stewards the long-term growth of the Daniel and Earlene Vestal Leadership Scholar Endowment Fund. We invite you to leave a legacy of Baptist leaders for future generations by leaving a bequest gift in your will towards the fund. You can also make an immediate impact by making a gift towards the fund here.  Contact Shauw Chin Capps at for further assistance.  


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.

One thought on “CBF names Laure FitzSimons and Antonio Vargas as 2023 Vestal Scholars

  1. Pingback: CBF nombra a Laure FitzSimons y Antonio Vargas como Vestal Scholars 2023 | CBFblog

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