Offering Full Measure

Seminary Scholar Focus: John Gargis

A decade ago, I could be heard saying, “there’s no way that I can reduce my income by entering the ministry and pay for this
required education.” Ten years late r, I say, “there is no way I could have reached this goal without the help of the Church and the Foundation.” It is nothing short of a revelation of God to look back and see his hand. Both Foundation scholarships and Conference funds have blessed me. These financial blessings motivate me to offer “full measures” in all that I do.

John Gargis is a Holston Foundation seminary scholar and one of the oldest active students at Asbury Theological Seminary, but his passion for reaching others for Christ is at an all-time high. His ministry has gotten extra creative during recent months as he leads a new church start.

John felt the call to ministry as a second career: “Once I was living a ‘life in recovery,’ I clearly heard God’s calling on my life. For years, I attempted to satisfy it through lay leadership. Ultimately, the call to pastoral ministry won the day.” John began his vocational ministry as a local pastor and then pursued seminary. “I thought, ‘I have an associate’s degree, and I am 50 years old.’ The Lord whispered ‘are you in or are you out?” he said. John has spent the past nine years pursuing higher education and the calling God placed on his life.

If you have had the opportunity to meet John, you have also seen his gift for evangelism. Through the generosity of donors, John’s seminary education and gifts for ministry have been nurtured. The Holston Foundation has awarded John seminary scholarships to support his calling for several years. The Foundation also awarded a grant to support his ministry as he led the Celebrate Recovery-North ministry at Fountain City UMC.

“We’ve never done things this way before” can be said about many things in ministry in 2020. Try launching a new church start without a building during a pandemic. Well, John Gargis is! He is appointed to Valley Church, a new church start located in the Hardin Valley area of Knoxville. Just as details were beginning to fall into place for the church launch, COVID shut everything down.

How do you connect to the community and launch during a pandemic? You get creative! Valley Church cleared a trail on the church’s 20-acre property for the community to enjoy nature, John posts “The Word From the Stump” on Facebook to connect to the community from the property, and he continues to safely meet one-on-one with those struggling. The “seed team” participates in community outdoor clean-up events, online Sunday evening worship, and Bible study.

Reasons to celebrate: Valley Church will officially launch this fall, and John will graduate from seminary in April!

This begins a series highlighting those impacted by the support of the Holston Foundation. Each participant will answer the same question, “What is giving you life right now?”

John Gargis: Daily swims. He, his wife, and dog take daily trips to get smoothies. “Since I was lost for half of my life, what ultimately feeds me is the vision of a person or family walking in our doors to connect for the first time or re-connect to a church body.”

Could you consider leaving a legacy to support seminary scholars? Do you have the opportunity to encourage others to consider a legacy gift of education? The Holston Foundation awarded more than $36,000 to 10 seminary scholars this year (scroll down to see the full listing of seminary scholars). Contact Paul Bowman today if you’d like to help others gain access to seminary education at 865-690-8124.