Biologist discusses career, church

Published 8:20 pm Saturday, July 14, 2018

When Rebecca Bearden is not out in nature or working as a biologist with the Geological Survey of Alabama or working with her sister on the family cattle ranch, she is spending time serving on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Selma.

“My first cousin and her husband go to church there, and they got me involved,” she said. “I first attended the Christmas Eve candlelight service, and I thought that was just beautiful.”

Bearden was able to learn more about the Episcopalian branch of Christianity by taking a course about ministry.

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“One of my former co-workers at the Alabama Wildlife Federation is a member at St. John in Montgomery,” she said. “They do a program called Education for Ministry, and you don’t have to be Episcopalian to do the course, but it is just like continuing education for ministry. I took two of the four-year course back around 2012.”

Even though Bearden has Baptist roots, she said that the Episcopal faith is what she falls in line with.

“I love my Baptist roots, but after different stages in my life, my faith is more in line with the Episcopal Church,” said Bearden. “The way they think about and approach theology and the Christian faith is just different and that worked really well. It is a place where everyone is welcome, and it is a place where you feel like you don’t have to act a certain way in order to be welcome. Nobody claims to have all the answers, and that is why I like St. Paul’s the most.”

Bearden has served as part of the church’s Vestry, which is a 12-member panel. Each member serves for two years.

“It is over church business, and there are committees we help,” said Bearden. “We help administer all the programs the church puts on.

“I’m also on the stewardship committee,” she said. “Occasionally I’ll do the youth Sunday School, and also help out with the adult education leading Sunday School classes wherever needed as well.”

Bearden’s professional life also keeps her busy.

“We are the oldest state agency,” she said. “We have been around since 1848. We are set up to survey the state’s natural resources including animals, plants and minerals. I work in the Ecosystem Investigations Program, and mainly handle aquatic wildlife.”

She graduated from Auburn University with two bachelor’s degrees one in agricultural communications and journalism and another in wildlife sciences.

She also is taking advantage of being on the University of Alabama campus for work by obtaining her doctorate in biology focusing on cray fish ecology and behavior.

The Maplesville resident also spends time helping her sister run the family cattle ranch. They raise beef cattle.

She also is a freelance writer for Southeast Farm Press.

“I write a monthly column for that magazine which circulates pretty well,” she said.

You also can find her blog online at