Meagan O’Brien is an excellent example of why the investment in the future leaders of our church is a priority at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). O’Brien, a recipient of the Rev. Charles W. Tadlock Scholarship, is a second-year Master of Divinity student at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and associate site pastor at a local United Methodist church in her hometown, St. Louis, Missouri.
“As a second-career student, I hesitated for years to go back to school, even though I felt God calling me into ordained ministry,” explained O’Brien. “Married only a couple of years, and now a brand-new mom, anyway that I can be a good steward of God’s resources and avoid future debt, is helpful. The scholarship allows me to be able to keep the pace of my educational track as well.”
The Rev. Charles W. Tadlock Scholarship is awarded to certified candidates for ordination as an elder, who have successfully completed their first year of seminary. Scholarship recipients must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average while pursuing a Master of Divinity. Recipients from the Missouri Annual Conference receive preference, however, the scholarship is open to all candidates.
When asked why seminary is important to her, O’Brien explained, “My faith has been based, since childhood, on mostly emotional and heart-centered worship and experience, though Bible study and disciplines were also important and became anchors for my life. As I answered my call to ministry, it was very clear that I wanted to better theologically understand what I believed and how it informed my life. In addition, I think it is essential education to assist others in deepening their faith—knowing how to break down theology and scripture in ways that can apply to life and facilitate growth in individuals and communities.”
After graduation, O’Brien hopes to lead a congregation that is active in the community and discipleship, through teaching, preaching and developing leaders. “I intend to continue reaching people, connecting them to the unique love and call of Christ, and serving the church. I would also hope to continue to be involved with the greater “connection” and helping shape tools and relationships that can sustain and grow the Wesleyan movement in new or powerful ways.”
“My church is young but striving to make a difference in St. Louis,” said O’Brien. “Two main ways this occurs is first, through being extremely invitational and accepting. We want people to feel the love of Jesus, no matter their story, or their past wounds from the church. From that, a unique community has formed and lives are being changed and hearts opened. Secondly, we have chosen to be singularly focused on literacy for children. By mentoring, supporting schools and teachers, and offering books and resources, schools are improving and young lives thriving.”
To learn more about the scholarship offerings through GBHEM and how you can support students like O’Brien, visit www.gbhem.org/loans-scholarships.
To donate to the scholarship funds, visit www.gbhem.org/donate4students or send a donation to GBHEM Loans & Scholarships, 1 Music Circle North, Nashville, TN 37203.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.