Women of Color Scholars Program

 

Through its Office of Loans and Scholarships and Division of Ordained Ministry, GBHEM created a scholarship program like none other - the Woman of Color Scholars Program.

In 1987, the Black Clergywomen Caucus of the United Methodist Church met in the Bahamas to bring to light some of the concerns involving black women and the Church. One of the issues discussed was the lack of women of color faculty at United Methodist seminaries and theological schools. What began as a discussion resulted in a recommendation that the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry develop strategies to address this imbalance.

Through its Office of Loans and Scholarships and Division of Ordained Ministry, GBHEM created a scholarship program like none other - the Woman of Color Scholars Program. Established to create a pool of trailblazing United Methodist women of color, many of whom are ordained clergy, more than 22 women scholars have successfully completed the program and set out on career paths in theological and religious education.

In August, 2006, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of clergywomen receiving full rights in The United Methodist Church, the Woman of Color Consultation/Celebration was held to recognize the achievements of the program and feature its mentors, graduates and present scholars.

In 1988, a trailblazing program designed to give financial, intellectual, and personal support to United Methodist women of color in theological and religious education was begun by The United Methodist Church. That program is the Women of Color Scholars Program.

Beginnings

Issues and concerns about women of color and the church were raised during a United Methodist Black Clergywomen’s Caucus. One of the most pressing issues was the lack of women of color faculty at United Methodist seminaries and theological schools. This informal discussion resulted in a recommendation that the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry develop strategies to address this imbalance.

Taking the Next Step

Working through its Office of Loans and Scholarships and the Division of Ordained Ministry, GBHEM set up the Women of Color Scholars Program. The program provides up to $10,000 a year in scholarship funds to women of color who are Ph.D. or Th.D. students. Recipients of these scholarships meet twice a year with mentors—women of color who are working in theological education. More than 22 graduates of this program now have their doctoral degrees in religious studies and are making contributions to academia and the church. And in 2007, GBHEM set up a $500,000 endowment to ensure that money would continue to be available for the scholarships.

Why It Matters

Dr. Anne Joh, now an assistant professor of theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, credits the Women of Color mentors with helping her get through her doctoral program. She earned a Ph.D. at Drew in 2003.

“The landscape of the doctoral program is not so friendly to women in general and even more so for women of color. I did my academic work in my institution, but it was within the space of Women of Color gatherings that I was nurtured and empowered."

Three Women of Color scholars earned a doctorate in 2009, bringing the total number of graduates to 26 in 20 years. Shown, from left, the 2009 graduates: Eleanora Cushenberry, Leah Gunning Francis, and Jae Haeng Choi.

The goals of the Women Color Scholars Program are

  1. to remedy the lack of women of color on faculties at United Methodist seminaries
  2. to increase the number of women of color who teach, lecture, write, and research at the Ph.D. level in all seminaries; and
  3. to heighten churchwide awareness of the need for women of color in theological education.

Eligibility requirements

Applicant must:

  • be born of African, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American/Alaskan Indian, or Pacific Islander parentage (at least one parent)
  • be an active, full member of The United Methodist Church for at least three years prior to application
  • have received a master of divinity degree
  • be enrolled full time or have been accepted in a degree program by the time of the interviews (to be held in the spring of each year)

Application procedure

The Women of Color Scholars program provides scholarship funds to selected women of color who are Ph.D. or Th.D. students. Any United Methodist woman having at least one parent of African, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Island background, who has earned a master of divinity degree and is pursuing a doctorate for a career in theological education and religious studies, is eligible to apply.

For more information, contact:

Office of Loans and Scholarships
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
615-340-7342

A listing of books and other materials published by scholars and their mentors in the program

Author

Book Title

Publisher

Date

Anderson, Cheryl
(Graduate)

Women, Ideology and ViolenceT&T ClarkAugust, 2004
Brock, Rita (Mentor)Journeys By Heart: A Christology of Erotic PowerCrossroadsJanuary, 1991
Setting the Table: Women in Theological ConversationChalice PressOctober, 1995
Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United StatesFortress PressSeptember, 1996
Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves UsBeacon PressNovember, 2002
Current-Felder, Angella (Mentor)Breaking Barriers: An African American Family & Methodist StoryAbingdon PressApril, 2001
Joh, Anne (Graduate)The Transgressive Power: A Postcolonial Hybridization of ChristologyChalice Press2004
Heart of the Cross: A Postcolonial ChristologyWestminster John Knox PressSeptember, 2006
Kim, Ai Ra (Graduate)Women Struggling for a New Life: The Role of Religion in the Cultural Passage from Korea to AmericaState University of NY PressJanuary, 1996
Korean American Women Living in Two CulturesKeimyung-Baylo University PressJanuary, 1997
Kim, Jung Ha (Mentor)Sing The Lord’s Song in a New Land: Korean American Practices of FaithWest Minister PressMay, 2005
   
Majeed, Debra Mubashshir (Graduate)Encounters of Intimate Sisterhood: Polygyny in the World of African American MuslimsUniversity Press of Florida 
    
Ross, Rosetta (Graduate)Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion and Civil RightsAugsburg FortressJanuary, 2003
Stewart, Dianne (Graduate)Three Eyes of the JourneyOxford University PressMay, 2005
Thomas, Linda E.
(Graduate)
   
Living Stones in the Household of GodFortress PressNovember, 2003
West, Traci (Graduate)Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence and Resistance EthicsNew York University Press1999
Talking About HomosexualityPilgrim PressMay, 2005
Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women's Lives Matter (Westminster John Knox, 2006)Westminster John KnoxJanuary, 2006

 

Blazing Trails and Transcending Boundaries through Love: Women of Color and “Religious” Work by Rosetta E. Ross Download
Following the Path: Challenges Facing Trailblazing Women Transcending Boundaries in the Twenty-First Century by Minerva G. Carcaño Download
For Women of Color Scholars Who Have Considered Giving Up by Pamela Lightsey Download
Making Exact Replicas by Rita Nakashima Brock Download
Muslim Womanist Philosophy: A Strategy of Accountability and Resistance by Debra Mubashshir Majeed Download
Women of Color and the Global Church by Beauty Maenzanise Download
Women of Color as Scholars and Priests in the Local Church by Youtha Hardman-Cromwell Download

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