Supporting United Methodist Students Vital
Anna E. Layman Knox says her United Methodist scholarships were crucial to paying for both her undergraduate education and her years in seminary at Duke Divinity School. She believes supporting United Methodist scholarship funds is crucial to the future work of the church.
“In a world with an economic crisis, worthy causes are constantly pounding on our doors, demanding to be heard and supported,” she said. “But without a solid education and the opportunity to pursue higher education, we are without the ability to fight for the good of anything else. And so, supporting United Methodist student funds is vital, particularly if we are going to continue to encourage young people not only in their studies but also in their faith.”
“I hope that our prayer, as a church, is that more young people will develop a passion for this church and this God whom we love and who provides for us. And I hope that young people who have been given support will use their newly gained knowledge and creativity to go on pilgrimages of their own, contributing back to the world the opportunity, life, and spirit they have been given,” Layman Knox said.
Churches are encouraged to observe Student Day on November 28 or any other day that this is convenient for the church. In addition, individuals can now contribute online with a credit card at any time at and also order free promotional resources, video presentations, and worship resources. Or call United Methodist Communications at 888-346-3862 to order resources.
She received Gift of Hope Scholarships during her undergraduate studies at Carleton College, a small liberal arts college in Minnesota.
At that time, the scholarship had been funded with $4 million for four years, and her mother was a member of the Board of Directors of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
“It was obvious that some of her greatest fulfillment and joy in life came from encouraging people to study and then contribute their learning back to the world. . . . And so, after her death in 2005, my family and I were humbled and overjoyed that the scholarship was named for her. She would not have wanted to leave a legacy of more "stuff" in the world, but a legacy of the pursuit of learning would have been her exact desire, I am sure of it.”
Nearly 1,000 United Methodists who qualified for a scholarship this year walked away empty handed, and even more students are expected to be disappointed in 2011 unless giving to scholarship funds increases dramatically.
Skyrocketing applications once students could apply online, coupled with declines in both giving to Special Sundays and lower earnings on investment all contributed to the problem, said James Harding, interim executive director of GBHEM’s Office of Loans and Scholarships.
Money for UM scholarships and loans comes from a variety of funding sources--donations to Special Sundays with offerings, earnings on investments of gifts from wills and annuities, and repayments and interest on student loans.
United Methodist Student Day offerings have declined from $602,309 in 2007 to $484,188 last year. In 2010, 2,411 students received scholarships totaling $3.3 million. Ninety percent of Student Day collections go to the United Methodist scholarship programs, while 10 percent is for student loans. Each United Methodist-related college gets money from the offering for scholarships, and each participating annual conference gets 10 percent of Student Day receipts to award to their own merit scholars.
Layman Knox says her work in Durban, South Africa, is “a daily pilgrimage--a pilgrimage in which people connect who would not have connected, if not for God and the church.”
During apartheid, the church was a deeply segregated establishment--but now holds every kind of person found in the city: the richest and poorest, the ill and healthy, some of the oldest and youngest, and every color, she said.
“Every day, this pilgrimage into peoples' lives here requires me to synthesize everything that I learned in college during my International Relations degree, everything from seminary, and everything that cannot be taught in the classroom but simply gets learned by encountering it in the moment,” she said. “No day is the same as the one before. We pray together, struggle together, and dream together, and this calling to work in such a place with such people has truly been the greatest privilege I can imagine.”