Here are some ideas, month-by-month, for guiding your church’s ministry in higher education.
- Gather the names of students from your congregation who will be attending college and university this year. Share these with the campus minister or chaplain at the colleges where these students are enrolled.
- Contact your annual conference United Methodist Student Movement adviser to find out about student retreats and events in your area.
- Dedicate a section of your bulletin board or Web site to the apportionments of The United Methodist Church. Designate a time to emphasize the Black College Fund. Highlight any colleges with which your church has a relationship and include information about each of these schools, as well as the other United Methodist-related higher education institutions.
- Send the brochure So . . . What About God Now That You’re Off to College? (in English; in Spanish) along with a note from you or your ministry team to all students from your church.
- Send first-year college students the Web address (www.gbhem.org/orientation) for Orientation Online. Or, go to the Web site and order printed copies of Orientation, along with a note about the Web site for the online faith resource.
- Obtain the college address (and/or e-mail address) for each student attending college away from home. Place students on the mailing list for the church newsletter.
- Assign these students to church members who agree to keep in touch with them throughout the school year.
- Present information about Africa University to the congregation.
- Send the names of high school juniors and seniors to United Methodist-related colleges.
- Invite a United Methodist college or campus ministry to present a program at your church in November or at another time during the year.
- Invite a faculty, staff member, or student from one or more of the United Methodist-related colleges and universities to talk with your students, offer a workshop on financial aid, participate in worship, or lead a seminar on a topic of your choice
- Invite a student from a UM-related Black college to speak to your Sunday school class.
- Create a bulletin board with the names and pictures of members of your congregation attending college. Include a map giving the locations of their schools. If your church has a Web site, you might also post this on the site.
- Prepare to observe World Communion Sunday by giving your congregation information about the Crusade Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program. (Obtain offering envelopes, bulletin inserts and posters from United Methodist Communications.)
- Encourage your church to be aware of and welcoming toward college students who may be visiting your church for the first time.
- Promote the World Communion Sunday offering.
- Send a letter to all high school seniors in your church summarizing all United Methodist scholarships that are available from the local church, annual conference, and the general church.
- Prepare to observe United Methodist Student Day in November. Visit with your pastor about ways to interpret and promote the United Methodist Student Loans and Scholarships Programs. (Obtain offering envelopes, bulletin inserts and posters from United Methodist Communications.)
- Coordinate a visit by your church’s high school youth to a nearby United Methodist college or campus ministry. (Many colleges plan a student day in the fall. Contact the admissions director for more information.)
- Include brochures, posters, and other information in a Black College Fund display.
- List the names and addresses of your students in the church newsletter. Invite members of your church to make contact with them. Take notecards addressed to each student to different Sunday school classes and ask class members to write a short greeting to send out to students.
- If your church has a prayer chain, invite the coordinator to have the chain pray for one student each week. Send the student a note telling them of your prayers and support for them.
- Promote the Student Day offering.
- Share information and stories about how the United Methodist Student Loans and Scholarships Programs have benefited present and former students from your congregation.
- Send a note of encouragement to a student you have met from a Black College Fund school. If you have not had an opportunity to meet individual students, send a message to the president, chaplain, or student affairs office. Request that the letter be shared in chapel, the campus newsletter or Web site, or other appropriate venue. Or, arrange a visit to a Black College Fund school for your congregation.
- Host a program by students at a United Methodist college or campus ministry.
- Coordinate a study group during the Sunday school hour or at another time on the church’s concern for ministry in higher education. Invite area leaders in higher education to speak about issues facing higher education today.
- Ask a Sunday school class, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, or your higher education work area members to put together care packages for students approaching finals. Include snacks, bookmarks, a note, and simple tension relievers such as stress-squeeze balls. Let students know your church is praying for them during final exams.
- Invite a Black College Fund student to share a home-cooked meal with you to get acquainted.
- If your church is near a campus, contact the international student office to see if there are students who won’t be going home for Christmas. Offer hospitality — Christmas dinner, time with a church family — to them.
- Host a gathering for your church’s college students who are back home during the Christmas holidays.
- Host a college night for your congregation and other churches to introduce students and families to United Methodist colleges and universities, and to United Methodist financial-aid options for all college students. Contact an area United Methodist college or campus minister for leadership.
- Develop a display about United Methodist ministries in higher education for your church. Include brochures and pictures about colleges and about campus ministries. If your church has a Web site, post information there.
- Encourage high school seniors and college students to apply for a United Methodist Scholarship.
- Alert students to the upcoming Student Forum, held Memorial Day weekend. Begin helping raise funds for travel expenses. Encourage students to visit the United Methodist Student Movement website for information about the event
- Send a midterm letter of encouragement to students. Include a copy of the Lenten meditation booklet, or share the Web site address so students can sign up to receive the meditations by e-mail.
- Prepare to observe Native American Ministries Sunday in April. Visit with your pastor about ways to interpret the offering, which goes to support Native- American ministries and provide scholarships for Native-American students. (Obtain offering envelopes, bulletin inserts and posters from United Methodist Communications.)
- In cooperation with your pastor, invite a college president, college chaplain, or campus minister to speak in a worship service. Invite the guest to visit with a Sunday school class, too.
- Encourage your annual conference to invite a Lina H. McCord summer intern or ambassador to speak about their experience as a student at a United Methodist-related college and about the importance of the Black College Fund apportionment. Contact the Black College Fund Office, 615-340-7378 or email@example.com.
- Public policy issues — such as who has access to higher education, how higher education is funded, what federal and state financial aid is available, daycare legislation for single parents who are students, tuition grant programs — are important issues for the church to understand. Ask someone from a local college or from your state legislature to come to your church and discuss public policy and higher education.
- With your pastor, begin to plan a “welcome home” service for students in your congregation who have been away at college. Involve students in planning and carrying out the service.
- Start plans for a special study and fellowship group for college students who will be home for the summer. Consult students to see what format, day and place would be appropriate for such a group. If the group wishes to meet over a meal, ask members of the congregation to take turns helping provide the food.
- Give graduating seniors the Web address for Orientation Online, the online resource for graduating high school seniors.
- Support college students from your church who are attending Student Forum in Shreveport, Louisiana, during Memorial Day weekend.
- At exam time, send a “survival kit” to college students. Include prayers or a book of meditations, light snacks and homemade cookies. Let students know your congregation is thinking of them and praying for them during the stressful end of the school year.
- Send congratulatory letters to students graduating from college and to students graduating from high school.
- Plan, along with students, a weekend retreat for college students. The focus might be vocational discernment and understanding calling. Provide any support — financial and otherwise — students might need to attend.
- With your pastor, be sure to include college students who are at home during the summer in worship and other aspects of church life.
- Find out which students from your congregation are away from home during the summer. Write notes telling them their home congregation is remembering them with prayer and good wishes.
- As high school graduates in your church begin to get ready to leave for college, offer to pair them up with an older student who can help answer their questions and support them.
- Send notes to campus ministers and college chaplains expressing your thanks for the work they do on campus and telling them you will keep them in your prayers as they approach a new school year.