By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Two students – one studying nursing and the other planning to become a special education teacher – received $500 scholarships from the congregation of a Bay Ridge church which established the fund in memory of a deceased church member.
Gabriel Benitez, a nursing student at Kingsborough Community College, and Anthony Maguire, a Brooklyn College student, were awarded the First Jim Gillies Memorial Scholarships by the congregation of Bay Ridge United Church in a ceremony last month.
The scholarships were presented to Benitez and Maguire at a joint worship service of Bay Ridge United Church and the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The scholarship fund was established in memory of Jim Gillies, a longtime member of Bay Ridge United Church who had died of complications from myeloma in 2011. Gillies, who was baptized in Bay Ridge United Church, was an elder of the church. At a memorial service held in his memory, church members paid tribute to his Scottish heritage by tying plaid ribbons around the church, located at 636 Bay Ridge Parkway.
In his letter to the church requesting the scholarship, Benitez wrote that the funds would help him “concentrate on obtaining the knowledge I seek to help me advance doing what the Lord wants me to do.”
Maguire said he hopes to use the funds to help him “be better suited to teaching in the changing classroom of today’s schools.”
Both Benitez and Maguire are ordained elders of the church and have served on the church board.
Bay Ridge United Church is a joint congregation of the Reformed Church of America and the Presbyterian Church of the USA. The Rev. Jane Donnelly is the church’s pastor. The worship service on Sundays at 11 a.m. The church also offers Bible study at 10 a.m. every Sunday.