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Special Sunday gives students helping hand

Special Sunday gives students helping hand

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Special Sunday gives students helping hand

Nov. 15, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0764}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — The Rev. Moses Johnson knows firsthand the importance of contributing to United Methodist Student Day.

Photo courtesy of Bethune-Cookman University. Photo #07-0704.

Johnson, pastor of Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, was the recipient of a scholarship from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) when he attended Bethune-Cookman University for his undergraduate degree and later while he attended Gammon Theological Seminary. Makeya Dingle, a student in Johnson’s congregation, also received a scholarship, so Johnson knows personally the impact a scholarship can have and its affect on students today.

Scholarships are given through the higher education board’s United Methodist Scholarship and Loan Programs. The funding for them comes, in part, from offerings collected by local churches on United Methodist Student Day, one of the special Sunday offerings authorized by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.

United Methodist Student Day is typically observed the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This year it falls on Nov. 25, and all local congregations are encouraged to collect an offering that day or another Sunday close to that date.

The United Methodist Scholarship and Loan Programs is a churchwide educational service providing scholarships and loans to help supplement the financial needs of students. Funding for the scholarships and loans is provided through special Sunday offerings, wills, annuities and other designated gifts.

Johnson says it is important for churches to lift up the special offering because embracing the importance of higher education is part of The United Methodist Church’s Wesleyan heritage. He said many students are in dire need of assistance to pursue their educational goals and without help from GBHEM it would be virtually impossible to achieve them.

With the rising cost of higher education, the importance of the scholarship and loan programs can’t be overlooked because of the support they provide students and their families, says Angella Current-Felder, executive director of United Methodist Scholarship and Loan Programs.

Current-Felder said scholarships enable recipients to offset the cost of a college education. Last year $594,179 was collected from the denomination’s annual conferences through United Methodist Student Day, according to Current-Felder.

In 2006 the Florida Conference raised $12,018 for United Methodist Student Day and $15,587 for World Communion Sunday, which also benefits the scholarship and loan programs.

“It’s important to note that 10 percent of the amount collected by the annual conference goes directly back to the conference to be awarded to students in the form of the Conference Merit Scholarship for a student attending a United Methodist school,” Current-Felder said.

Photo courtesy of Florida Southern College. Photo #07-0705.

Ketia Harris, a member of Mount Pleasant/Sellers United Methodist Church in Miami, and Samuel Hernandez, a member of Tamiami United Methodist in Miami, are the current recipients of the Florida Conference Merit Scholarship.

Current-Felder said the scholarship and loan programs are one important way GBHEM supports clergy and laity as they pursue educational endeavors.

The Rev. Deborah Allen, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Hudson, also benefited from a GBHEM scholarship while attending school, and now her husband, Daryl, has received a scholarship.

“I’ve only been here (Faith United Methodist Church) three years, but I make sure we collect the offering each year because it’s an opportunity to invest in future leaders to ensure we have the next generation of leaders for our congregations,” Allen said.

Daryl Allen, a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, said the scholarship is a blessing to his family because each three-hour class costs roughly $477 a credit hour and some classes have additional fees. He said the scholarship allows him to stay at home with the couple’s 3-year-old child and relieves some of the financial strain of having only one income.

“I feel good about concentrating on my studies and learning what I need to know,” said Allen, who expects to graduate in May 2009.

Who is eligible

Applications for scholarships for the 2008/2009 academic year may be requested beginning Jan. 2.

GBHEM scholarships are awarded on an academic-year basis. A student is eligible to receive only one United Methodist scholarship during any one academic year. The scholarships assist students from various backgrounds working toward various higher education degrees. Each applicant may be enrolled at any accredited institution within the United States to be eligible and must be an active, full member of a United Methodist church for at least one year prior to applying, a citizen or permanent resident of the United States for most programs, admitted to a full-time degree program in an accredited college/university, and maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or above.

Details on loans and scholarships, along with application information, are available at and from the Office of Loans and Scholarships at 615-340-7346 or


This article relates to Financial Assistance for Students.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.