The coronavirus has brought sweeping changes to everyday life and many people have questions about conducting higher education and ministry in this new landscape. GBHEM is here to help. On this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, we will aggregate and answer some of the most common queries we’re receiving from constituents right now.
We’ll tackle everything from virtual Course of Study options to financial aid for student loan borrowers. The FAQ page is frequently updated, so be sure to check back regularly for GBHEM’s latest answers and guidance.
Don’t see your question here? No problem. Fill out our form to submit a new question.
Course of Study and Licensing School Questions
What will happen to licensing schools for local pastors?
Boards of ordained ministry (BOMs) are working to provide alternatives to the current licensing school structure in light of the coronavirus. Please contact your BOM representative to stay up to date on all announcements regarding licensing school.
Will GBHEM be offering summer Course of Study classes online?
Yes! GBHEM is offering a special summer term of Course of Study online courses. Courses will be offered to local pastors June 1, 2020 through August 9, 2020. The special summer term is a response to the limited availability of COS residential and hybrid courses throughout the connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Register here.
How do I register for the summer Course of Study online courses?
Register now for the summer term by visiting courseofstudy.org. It is recommended that students contact their district superintendent and BOM representative for assistance in expediting the course registration online approval process. Registration for the GBHEM COS online courses opens April 1, 2020 and will end on May 15, 2020.
What online courses will be offered during the special COS summer term?
The summer COS classes will include:
- COS 121 – Bible I: Introduction
- COS 122 – Theological Heritage I: Introduction
- COS 123 – Formation and Discipleship
- COS 124 – Transformative Leadership
- COS 221 – Bible II: Torah and Israel’s History
- COS 222 – Theological Heritage II: Early Church
- COS 224 – Polity and Administration
- COS 321 – Bible III Gospels
- COS 324 – Preaching
- COS 422 – Theological Heritage IV Wesleyan Movement
- COS 523 – Evangelism
Some regional Course of Study schools will offer limited online courses this summer. A full listing of online courses offered at the Regional Course of Study schools will be posted here by April 10, 2020.
What online Course of Study programs will be offered this summer?
The following Course of Study (COS) programs have been approved to offer online summer sessions during 2020. All of these programs, except for GBHEM COS Online, will offer courses in a combined synchronous/asynchronous format. Note: students may be enrolled in only one online course at a time.
How can I continue to make progress in the Course of Study this summer?
There are several options available to you. Please contact your school’s Course of Study director for specific alternatives:
- You could wait and take the courses through your regular COS school’s sessions offered in the next year (Fall 2020, Winter and Spring 2021).
- You could enroll in one of the courses GBHEM will be offering online in June and August.
- You could enroll in a course at a Regional COS School that has been approved to offer limited online courses in the summer of 2020. See the links to summer COS courses on our E-Resources website. Due to the intensive nature of these courses, students will be allowed to enroll in only one course per session.
- You could enroll in a combination of these options.
Where can I get advice and have a more in-depth conversation about enrollment in Summer Course of Study online courses?
Many COS students have questions that involve more extensive conversations and advising. If you do, please email Theologicaleducation@ghbem.org and we will be glad to assist you.
Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Questions
Is there a coordinated effort by chaplains to offer spiritual support for many who are anxious, frightened and/or experiencing loss right now? How can individual chaplains get involved?
The Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) is asking student, retired and otherwise unemployed chaplains to volunteer to provide telechaplaincy. The ACPE has received requests from a number of healthcare agencies across the country for this assistance. If you would like to volunteer, you must complete the ACPE’s volunteer form here.
What kind of support is available for chaplains on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Several groups are working to help chaplains directly involved in the pandemic fight. They are connecting them for peer-to-peer support and encouragement.
Student Financial Aid Questions
I lost my job because of the coronavirus pandemic. What kind of help can you give me with my GBHEM school loans?
The GBHEM Office of Loans and Scholarships is aiding its student loan borrowers whose income has been impacted as a result of the pandemic. Borrowers currently in repayment may request a payment suspension for three months. Interest will accrue during the payment suspension once the request has been verified by GBHEM. Borrowers may pay interest or partial payments at any time. The payment suspension will not affect future deferment requests.
Borrowers may email email@example.com to ask for a payment suspension request form. Payment suspension request forms must be completed and signed by both borrower and cosigner (electronic signatures accepted) by April 15, 2020.
If you have questions regarding loan payment suspension, contact GBHEM’s Office of Loans and Scholarships at 615-340-7342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will I know whether I will receive a scholarship for the fall term?
The GBHEM Fall 2020 Scholarships review and awarding is on track! Thanks to our current online process, scholarships will be awarded, and recipients notified, by July 1, 2020.
Note: The GBHEM Fall 2020 Student Loan application will be open from May 14, 2020 to October 15, 2020.
Remote Educational Planning Questions
My seminary is offering Pass/No Record instead of a letter grade as an option for the classes I’m taking. Will a Pass/No Record grade be acceptable for the Basic Graduate Theological Studies class requirement?
The board of ordained ministry (BOM) for each annual conference has the responsibility to determine if a candidate has met the educational requirements for licensing and ordination. The conference BOM makes the decision for their annual conference about whether or not Pass/Fail (or Pass/No Record) completion will be acceptable for the Spring 2020 semester. Please check with your BOM before opting into a Pass/Fail or Pass/No Record option for completion of your coursework.
Will the University Senate extend the temporary suspension of the guidelines that require seminaries to teach the majority of their courses in person?
On April 15, 2020, the United Methodist University Senate executive committee voted to allow official United Methodist seminaries and non-United Methodist seminaries to offer coursework via distance learning through the end of the 2020 summer session without jeopardizing their status with the University Senate. The extension of this authorization beyond the end of the summer session would require further action by the University Senate. All seminaries have until June 1, 2020 to report summer session courses that will be offered remotely.
BOM and Annual Conference Questions
What happens to annual conference clergy sessions if they can’t meet before July 1?
GBHEM, Wespath, and the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) have provided recommendations to bishops, Boards of Ordained Ministry, conference secretaries, and conference benefit officers for how to navigate a delayed clergy session. Please check with those conference representatives for more information.
Is GBHEM extending the deadline for submitting Francis Asbury Award nominations?
Yes. The previous deadline was April 1, 2020. Given that most annual conferences have been postponed due to the coronavirus, GBHEM is extending the deadline to June 30, 2020.
What adult Sunday school or small group online curriculum resources can you suggest?
Per Discipleship Ministries: “The United Methodist Church has a process for approving curriculum for use with Sunday school classes and small groups. Material is identified for each age level. That material is recommended by the Curriculum Resources Committee and approved by the board members of the Discipleship Ministries.
Visit Cokesbury for curriculum to use with children, youth or adults that has been approved for use in United Methodist churches. You may follow the link or go to Curriculum > UMC Endorsed via Cokesbury’s navigation bar. On each page where a resource is described, there will appear a line indicating it is “UMC Endorsed.’”
During this global coronavirus crisis, are there communication channels our missionaries can access to help homeward-bound volunteers?
The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church manages the trained Mission Volunteers endorsed by Global Ministries and coordinates other volunteers on mission with other agencies around the world.
Please contact Una Jones, director of Mission Volunteers in Global Ministries’ office of Missionary Service for advice and assistance at: (T) +1.404.460.7210; (F) +1.404.942.4243; or via email at UJones@umcmission.org.