By Eleanor Simons, Grace Church Historian
Grace Church has an endowed memorial scholarship at the College of Central Florida that is available to students who are planning to work in healthcare. This scholarship has an interesting history.
It began in 1959 with a donation of $3,000 to start an endowment fund. In 1964 another gift of $5,000 was given in memory of Dr. Robert Ferguson, Jr. to students studying nursing. “Bob” Ferguson was a member of Grace Church from 1892 to 1947.
Dr. McGovern came to Ocala to take over Dr. Ferguson’s practice in 1947. In addition to practicing medicine he was a founder of the Marion Medical Center, president of the Marion County Medical Society, and president of the Munroe Memorial Hospital medical staff.
In 1966 Fr. Benitez, rector of Grace, sent the annual interest of $213 from the endowment to support nursing students in Manilla, Philippines. In 1968 The Bishop of our Diocese wrote a letter saying, “parish and diocesan endowment funds are an unnecessary evil.” The Bishop went on to say that members were less inclined to give knowing the church had an endowment. Fr. Benitez responded, “Endowment funds in the church do have a real place, especially where the funds are devoted to special purposes.”
In the 1970’s the endowment’s value was $20,000. In 1989 the Rector and the Vestry decided to turn the funds over to Central Florida Community College for nursing student scholarships, later expanded to healthcare studies. Since 1989 over $20,700 has been awarded to students. Today the endowment is worth $47,463. Grace Church’s endowment will continue to help healthcare students into the future.