Excellence in Clergy Leadership scholarship awarded to three W.Va. students

By Bonnie MacDonald

Three West Virginia Conference seminary students have received The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship: Bradley Davis, Sarah Lowden, and Tyler Sprouse. The WV Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia, Inc. have partnered to make this scholarship a reality for our students.

The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship is based on merit, leadership capacity, financial need, and the recipients must demonstrate how the scholarship will help them avoid additional student loans. The scholarship is designed to help United Methodist clergy avoid excessive educational loan debt, minimize financial stress and build financial acumen. Each recipient is awarded amounts ranging from $2,500 to $12,500. Created by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), the scholarship targets full-time Master of Divinity students attending one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology. Funding comes from matching donors—GBHEM, the Lilly Endowment, the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology, and participating United Methodist Annual Conferences and Foundations. Scholarship recipients represent 47 of the 57 United Methodist Annual Conferences.

This and other scholarship applications are open between January 3 and March 1 of each year at GBHEM.org/scholarshipapplication.

Anyone who has benefited from the ministry of a licensed or ordained United Methodist pastor has been impacted by the Ministerial Education Fund (MEF). The MEF is central to preparing people to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Through the MEF, the United Methodist Church supports the ministry of 13 UM seminaries, including their Course of Study programs, for the purpose of educating clergy to lead United Methodist congregations. Seminaries help students discover and discern their calling through challenging study and supervised ministry experience, as they develop their gifts and expertise for leadership. The fund also supports continuing education for licensed and ordained clergy.

In 2017, the West Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry utilized the MEF to award a total of $68,875 ($29,125 for spring/$39,750.00 for summer & fall) to 16 seminary students preparing for ordination as deacon or elder. These students represent our Conference at 5 seminaries, most attending classes full-time, many while also pastoring churches or ministering in other settings within the WV Conference.

Applying to the MEF also allows these students to be considered for additional scholarships administered through the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia. Eleven students were awarded Foundation scholarships for 2017-18, totaling $17,056.78. These scholarships were created by generous gifts from donors who wanted to help ease the financial burden for those answering God’s call to ministry.

In addition, the Laymens’ Foundation, of the WV Conference United Methodist Men, annually awards Hal Burke Memorial awards to those attending seminary and who make application through the UM Foundation.