In an effort to further serve students and higher education partners, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) Office of Loans and Scholarships now offers fund administration services to annual conferences. This includes oversight of the scholarship application and allocation processes for conference-based scholarships.
The North Carolina Conference of the UMC (NCCUMC) was one of the first to secure this service and the GBHEM office now administers their Ministerial Education Fund (MEF).
Rev. Amie Stewart serves as Associate Director of Office of Ministerial Relations at NCCUMC and is appreciative of the successful collaboration.
“Our office used to manage the MEF directly which called for significant leg work to receive all of the applications and subsequent required documentation,” she said. “We reached out to GBHEM to see if they could help facilitate the application process on our behalf. The Loans and Scholarships team worked diligently to develop a prototype, tested out the system through one cycle of applications, and sought feedback to improve any necessary steps. It made the whole process easier for everyone— our office, the candidates and the review team. They have gone above and beyond to ensure we have what we need and have been gracious in communication throughout.”
In administering annual conference scholarship funds, GBHEM is fulfilling an important part of its work to assist UMC students as they discover, claim, and flourish in God’s calling on their life. The MEF in North Carolina was created to support theological education within the NCCUMC and its funds increase educational access for future church leaders.
“The MEF indicates an investment on a future promise of leadership and fruitfulness within the Church,” said Stewart. “The funds are available to certified candidates and guide them through their educational formation, sending them forth into service with the understanding that they will remain active leaders in the time to come.”
Carlos Castano-Mejia, a certified candidate studying at Duke Divinity School, is a MEF recipient who hopes to soon become an ordained elder. He believes that the relationship between GBHEM and NCCUMC through the Ministerial Education Fund has been invaluable to his education.
“Any person who has been called by God needs a holy boost,” he said. “The MEF was that holy boost for me, it is a blessing from God that can turn lives around forever. I never would have made it (through school) without such help.”
Castano-Mejia said that the MEF has assisted him in his education from beginning to end, offsetting all of his book requirements, and making money available for gas, food and other necessities.
“I feel a deep commitment with the NCCUMC to progress in ministry and spread the Good News,” Castano-Meija said. “My way to thank God and the NCCUMC is to serve as a pastor in the rural Church and in the ministry of Jesus Christ. GBHEM and the NCCUMC are helping present and future leaders prepare for the higher ministry to come. We are all a big family paving the way.”
If your annual conference or UMC group is interested in fund administration by the GBHEM Office of Loans and Scholarships, please contact Allyson Potts, Executive Director of Loans and Scholarships, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students interested in applying for the North Carolina Ministerial Education Fund can find directions to do so here.
About GBHEM: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry embraces the ministry of learning and leadership formation in The United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan tradition; serving Christians around the world who are shaped by a process of intellectual engagement, spiritual and character formation, and leadership development. We cultivate a dynamic culture of call and vocational discernment that encourages lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in God’s ministry and mission for the Church, the academy and the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.