United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has recently announced that it would provide scholarships to 75 qualified seminarians. At the same time, the board staff members are urging the congregations to boost Special Sundays offerings to help fund these scholarships for the future pastors of their churches.
"We must have a significant increase in congregational giving to Special Sunday offerings if we are to continue assisting ministerial students with educational expenses they are incurring to meet the requirements for ordination," said Angella Current-Felder, executive director of the board's office of loans and scholarships.
According to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS), while the number of scholarship applications increased, giving to the three Special Sundays has dropped or remained flat. The Office of Loans and Scholarships had to turn away 300 eligible applicants last year.
Many of the seminarians receiving "emergency scholarships" are first-career ministerial students pursuing their M.A. of Divinity degree, Current-Felder said, and had participated in higher education and ministry events designed to nurture young people in their journey toward ordained ministry or other leadership roles within the church.
"These students are the future pastors of our churches," she noted. In a recent letter to bishops, she urged them to support Special Sundays with offerings "to respond to the needs of this new generation of Christian leaders."