When Birmingham physician Alton Baker and his wife, Mary, established the General James M. Hutchens Military Chaplain Scholarship at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in 2019, they wanted to “make Beeson the premier divinity school that supplies military chaplains.”
The Hutchens scholarship financially supports men and women enrolled in the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program who are committed to pursuing a career in the military as an active-duty chaplain.
And now their investment is bearing fruit.
In fall 2021 the Hutchens scholarship was awarded to its first recipient, M.Div. student Josiah Trombley, who is preparing for chaplaincy in the U.S. Navy.
“To have the Hutchens scholarship is hard to put into words. It’s one of those things that I know an investment is being made and a deposit is being entrusted to me,” he said.
On March 1, Trombley and the Bakers met for the first time during the school’s Military Chaplaincy Day during which recruiters from four branches of the United States military were on campus to speak to students interested in various chaplaincy opportunities.
“Meeting Dr. Baker you get to see who is behind this provision, who God used,” said Trombley. “To meet him was to meet a true servant who wants to raise up leaders for the gospel. It truly was incredible.”
Dr. Baker, who met Hutchens while serving in the 10th Special Forces Group as Group Surgeon, said that Hutchens had a profound impact on his life. So he wanted to honor him by ensuring his legacy lived on at Beeson. Hutchens died on July 13 last year.
“When we would parachute at night, the chaplain would always say a prayer before we got into the plane,” Dr. Baker said. “Any time we had a problem, we could go see him. His spirituality was upmost and helpful to our group.”
Dr. Baker wants more chaplains like Hutchens in the military. Beeson Divinity is well-positioned for this task, he said, for one of its strengths is providing theological education in person and not over the computer. This incarnational approach is important to the military.
“If it’s not for the faculty and the student body, it’s just a pile of bricks,” he said. “And I think this place is an embodiment of what all could be good. It’s been a great help to me.”
Thanks to people like the Bakers, Beeson Divinity has a new chaplaincy emphasis for students preparing for chaplaincy ministry in various fields. This emphasis includes a recommended track of study within the M.Div. program, a rich offering of vocational guidance and enrichment from local chaplains, financial support and access to Beeson’s advisory board of chaplaincy professionals.
Learn more about preparing for chaplaincy at Beeson Divinity.
Make a gift to the Hutchens scholarship.
Watch a video from the day.