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April 12, 2010

Press Photo

Photo provided by Carter's Baptist Church in Lakeland, Fla., of Marvin M. and Hazel Starling attending church.

On Sept. 27, Carter's Baptist Church in Lakeland, Fla., established a scholarship at The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville in appreciation and recognition of founding members Marvin M. and Hazel Starling for the tremendous impact their Christian walk made on the church and community.

Marvin was born Dec. 12, 1915, in Lawtey, Fla., and moved with his family to the Lakeland area in his youth. He and Hazel Carroll, a native of Polk County born Sept. 30, 1922, were married in 1940, and established their home in the Carter's Corner area of east Lakeland. As farmers working side-by-side in their strawberry and vegetable fields, they operated a produce stand by the side of the road and raised cows and other livestock for more than 60 years. They also raised their six children on that farm, where everyone had a job to do. Their children are: Ann Clayton of Lake Alfred and a member at First Baptist of Lake Alfred; Bruce Starling and Martha Best of Lakeland and still members at Carter's Baptist; John Starling and Carol Martin of Auburndale are members at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland; and Fred Starling of Sarasota, who also maintains his membership at Carter's. The Starlings have 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren.

It was in 1943 that the Starlings joined a group of six other visionaries to establish "Carter's Baptist Church," which began as a mission of the First Baptist Church of Lakeland. According to their son, Bruce, Marvin decided to take a Bible course at the Baptist Bible Institute (BBI) located then in Lakeland. Although Marvin never actually finished, the education and training that he received gave him a deep love and appreciation for the school and the mission of training men and women for areas of service. Now, 64 years later, the church that they helped start honored them by establishing the scholarship in their memory.

The Starlings remained faithful servants to the Lord, the church, and the community throughout their lifetime. Marvin and Hazel went home to be with the Lord on June 8, 2004 and June 10, 2009, respectively.

During this economically challenging time, current BCF students will be afforded the opportunity to continue their studies because of the scholarship made available through the church in honor and memory of Marvin and Hazel Starling. The Starlings enjoyed encouraging and talking with pastors and missionaries, and their home was always open to those that helped spread the Gospel message. Continuing that legacy, the scholarship is in recognition of their passion for helping those in the ministry.

For more information on the Marvin M. and Hazel Starling Scholarship, please call 800.328.2660.