United Methodist Board Aims for $4 Million Global Education Fund

The United Methodist Church’s education agency is creating a global fund that will help the more than 720 Methodist educational institutions outside the United States develop leaders and become more effective.

"The Methodist Global Education Fund is as exciting to me as the Africa University project," said Bishop Herbert Skeete, co-chairman of the fund task force, according to a report Tuesday by the United Methodist News Service. In written greetings to the board, he said, "Our mission challenge is to develop a visionary fiscal design to move out of the weak unstructured pattern that has plagued our Methodist education programs around the world.”

The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the denomination’s University Senate seek to raise $3- to $4-million over the next three years for the Methodist Global Education Fund to provide technical support and scholarship aid to those schools. The global education initiative was launched as an unfunded mandate by the 2004 General Conference and was designated as a World Service giving special of the denomination.

During a meeting on Mar. 9-11, the Board’s directors were told the fund would be a catalyst for transforming the United Methodist Church into a “truly global denomination.” The fund will benefit the worldwide Methodist connection, whether United Methodist or not, UMNS reported.

The fund will develop in five regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States with the mission to help develop new Christian leaders and to improve and strengthen the Methodist schools, colleges, universities and theological schools throughout the connection. The United Methodist Church alone has 123 academic institutions and 13 related theological institutions in the United States.

"There is nothing that is more disconcerting than to make a claim and not have the resources to achieve it," said the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, general secretary of the General Board of Higher Education. The fund will enable the United Methodist Church "to tell the truth and live the truth" about being global in its intentions.

"The MGEF will enable a United Methodist presence and leadership in higher education worldwide, an opportunity that is available only to us as members of the Protestant family of churches,” Del Pino said.

Each region - which has a governing and administrative organization modeling after the University Senate in the United States – will be responsible for raising funds to be shared with other regions.

"A dependency relationship is not what we seek but rather a model of partnership of sharing, giving and receiving," said Vivian Bull, a consultant to the task force creating the Methodist Global Education fund.

The senate, established in 1882, is one of the oldest accrediting bodies in the United States. Its mission was to ensure that schools, colleges and universities related to the church were worthy of carrying the denomination's name. In recent years, regional bodies have accredited academic institutions, and the senate has focused more on how institutions are related to the United Methodist Church.

According to Ken Yamada, a board staff member, the fund's main objective is to create "dynamic leaders who can transform people and society as a whole.”