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Carmichael Hall

Karl Stegall

Ph.D., The University of Alabama, 1973

M.Ed., Auburn University, 1961 

B.S., The University of Alabama, 1958

From his early childhood in rural west Alabama, Dr. Stegall has possessed a love for learning.  Inspired by his mother, who was a school teacher in the old “one-room” schoolhouse of another era, Karl has always had a keen sense of wonder and curiosity about life.  Karl received his formal education at Livingston High School, The University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  These experiences complemented his own inquisitive nature, expressed in his deep interest in people, places, and historical events. Karl is a wealth of information on a wide array of topics, staying informed on local, state, national and world events, and is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on many different aspects of life. 

Karl understood the importance of education in his own life and its ability to change things.  And while his mother certainly was the driving force in his early years, there was a point where Karl’s own drive and determination in the classroom and in life propelled him to heights he could have never dreamed of as a little boy from Emelle, Alabama.  Knowing how education had reset his own trajectory, for nearly a half century, Karl has sought to provide resources for young women and men to pursue further learning across a variety of educational settings.

After a brief stint coaching in his early career, Karl felt the call to ordained ministry.  He is a member of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church and served in several different appointments, including the First United Methodist Church of Andalusia, First United Methodist Church of Bonifay, FL, the Whitfield United Methodist Church in Montgomery, as the Troy District Superintendent, and as senior minister of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery. 

A formative experience for him was during his tenure as a district superintendent. He had several student pastors who were serving local congregations while also working to complete their seminary studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.  As the pastor to these aspiring ministers, Karl saw first-hand the tremendous financial strain that these men and women faced, many with families and young children, in meeting the educational requirements for ordination in the denomination.  As a result of this knowledge, Karl reached out to lay persons seeking financial contributions that would go directly to help these pastors with the costs of seminary education. Following Karl’s retirement from First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, members of the congregation formed the Stegall Seminary Foundation Scholarship, which has raised over $10 million dollars to help defray the cost of seminary education for candidates for ministry. 

Karl has also given of his time and talents to help undergraduate institutions in Alabama, including Birmingham-Southern College and Huntingdon College, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for both schools.  There are two scholarships named for him at Huntingdon College.  In 2017, Huntingdon College presented the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to Karl.  This award is given to honorees that demonstrate of “spirit of helpfulness and an awareness of the beauty and value of the intangible elements of life.”  

Karl was also instrumental in helping to establish the Early Childhood Education Center at First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, which serves to provide boys and girls with a learning environment that will help them as they prepare to enter elementary school.  The Center is the most sought after among young families in the area, where expectant mothers have been known to call and place their unborn child on the waiting list to try to ensure they would get in the program once the child is born!

These efforts, along with many others, have led to Karl being presented the Distinguished Education Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church and being named the Distinguished Alumnus of the Candler School of Theology in 2008.  

Karl has given tirelessly to efforts to improve his community, serving on Leadership Alabama, Leadership Montgomery, and as Vice-Chairperson of the Alabama Department of Mental Health.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Community Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, and the American Red Cross.  He currently serves as President of the Central Alabama Sports Commission, on the Executive Committee of the Camellia Bowl, and as a volunteer chaplain with the Alabama High School Athletic Association.  

Karl has done all of these things in addition to his outstanding leadership in The United Methodist Church, where he has served as an eight time delegate to the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, and has provided service on a number of boards, agencies, and committees throughout his distinguished career.

It is difficult to capture the essence of Karl Stegall and the totality of his influence in the lives of men and women.  As a pastor, as a teacher, as a coach, a personal friend and confidant, Karl’s reach is vast and his ability to connect with and care for people is unrivaled. The lengths he goes to help others is remarkable.  His capacity to see the needs around him and his willingness to find resources to meet those needs reflects the selfless nature of his character.  He does this, not only because of the call upon his life and his deep faith, but because he understands the importance of trying to help people develop their capacity to the fullest.  Education and learning are central to this and Karl has given tremendous time and energy to support the work of the academy through his leadership in the church and community.