Published on March 6, 2023 by Kristen Padilla  
Milton and Anne Chamberlain
Milton and Anne Chamberlain

Milton and Anne Chamberlain joined Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1981.

Eighteen months later, the Chamberlains began teaching a Sunday School class, which Drew and Diane Ferguson joined. Forty years later, the Chamberlains’ class is still going, and the Fergusons have decided to honor their teachers for their “dedicated service and commitment” with a student scholarship in their name at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.

The Milton and Anne Chamberlain Annual and Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to recipients who are preparing to serve as international missionaries or in a faith-based international business with a missions purpose. The first scholarship will be awarded in fall 2023.

Heart for missions

Not only have the Chamberlains been instrumental in leading a Sunday School class for four decades, but they also helped to start a Chinese ministry at Shades Mountain in 2001.

Their first experience with Chinese Christians occurred on the weekend of July 4, 1978, when the Chamberlains went to Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center to help teach Vacation Bible School (VBS) to the children of Chinese families attending the Southeast Chinese Christian Gospel Camp. Anne served as the coordinator of VBS at the camp until 2017.

The Chinese ministry at Shades Mountain grew out of their long association with Chinese Christians they met at these camps. In 2001, a new ministry was born, which was led by Shu Huang, a retired medical doctor, and his wife, Lily. The Chamberlains assisted with this ministry in numerous ways including driving vans to bring Chinese visitors to the church and teaching Bible and conversational English classes.

David Parks, director of Global Center and Contextual Learning at Beeson Divinity, worked with the Chamberlains for approximately five years on a Bible study for internationals, observing that “they loved on internationals every Sunday.”

“It gives me a lot of joy to know that there will be future students who will be assisted in their current and future ministries in the name of these two people I know and love,” he said. “I feel more of a connection to this scholarship because of whom it’s named after. I look forward to telling those students who receive the scholarship about Milt and Anne Chamberlain.”

When the Fergusons were deciding how to honor their longtime teachers, they wanted to do something that reflected their heart for missions and international Christians. A scholarship to support future missionaries at Beeson seemed to be a good fit.

“Our hope is that some young person who has been called into missionary work can get the training they need to spread the gospel,” Drew said.

After initially resisting having a scholarship in their name, the Chamberlains agreed in order that somehow it would “make a small contribution to the gospel of the kingdom being proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations,” they said.

“Most of all, we pray that recipients of this scholarship will take seriously every word of Jesus in all their thinking, writing, preaching and teaching,” the Chamberlains added.

Randy Pittman, a longtime member of Shades Mountain Baptist and retired vice president of advancement at Samford, said Beeson is the best place to equip students with a knowledge of Scripture for global ministry.

“Milton and Anne Chamberlain have been faithful to Christ’s mission for the church for decades. I have watched firsthand their work that has led to a vibrant ministry to the Chinese community, greatly enriching Shades Mountain Baptist and the kingdom as a whole,” Pittman said. “While the Chamberlains are greatly honored by this, I know they are even more pleased that students will benefit from a sound theological education so they can serve the Lord in a world filled with need.”

Give to the Chamberlain scholarship or start an endowed scholarship in someone else’s name.

Learn more about Beeson Divinity’s Master of Divinity program and missions certificate.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.