AU endowment honors beloved pastor, spouse

AU endowment honors beloved pastor, spouse

By Barbara Dunlap-Berg

Before the name “Africa University” was familiar to many United Methodists, Dr. Carolyn P. Jenkins and her husband, the Rev. A. Clark Jenkins, hosted the AU choir in the South Carolina and Tennessee communities in which they served.

“For my family,” she recalled, “this was an excellent way to tell the Africa University story. The presence of the students in our homes was a very personal way to experience the African culture. That was over 30 years ago, and it is only in hindsight that I realize the experience was a powerful way of planting seeds for the future.”

As an educator, Dr. Jenkins recognizes the gift of obtaining a university degree. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Claflin University, a master’s in library science from North Carolina Central University, and a Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Carolina.

Recently, the Jenkins family established an endowed scholarship in memory of Rev. Jenkins, who died in January 2013. Dr. Jenkins was inducted into the Richard E. Reeves Legacy Society.

“I grew up in the Methodist Episcopal Church.,” she said. “My grandfather was a local preacher.” Today she is an active member of Smyrna United Methodist Church in Bennettsville, South Carolina.

“Clark and I met in college and got married in 1974,” Dr. Jenkins said. “We have two children, Carmel Natasha and Jeremy Clark.”

Carmel is director of clinical services for Mecklenburg County Public Health. Jeremy, senior director of global compensation and operations for Avantor Sciences Inc., also attends Duke University Divinity School. He and his wife are preparing to make their own gift to Africa University.

“Both children grew up observing and participating in varied community ministries and have seemingly found careers that allow them to serve,” Dr. Jenkins said.

“I was excited to have my family attend the legacy dinner,” she continued. “As a mother and grandmother, I try to be a role model when the opportunity arrives. This was such an opportunity. As has been said, our children don’t always do what we tell them to do, but they do what they see us do.

“I wanted my granddaughters, ages 12, 12 and 14, to see me model giving and serving. I wanted them to experience what giving could look like. I hope they connect the act of giving to a concrete result of giving.”

More than two decades after her introduction to Africa University, Dr. Jenkins traveled to the Mutare, Zimbabwe, campus.

“I want to visit again,” she said. “I found the students, administration and staff to be warm and inviting and experts in their fields. I saw the evidence of support from United Methodist conferences throughout the United States. I fell in love with the countryside, the beautiful landscape and the acacia trees.”

Dr. Jenkins prays that Africa University will experience sustained stability, growth and long-lasting service to the continent and to the world.

Providing endowed scholarships and other financial aid to AU students, she noted, “provides an opportunity for students to meet their educational goals and prepare to become productive citizens. For some students, financial assistance is the only way they can afford college. Because the giving is endowed, it keeps on giving.”

Dunlap-Berg is a freelance writer and editor in Carbondale, Illinois.

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