December 01, 2017

“This connects a lot of dots in support of our Missouri students,” said David Atkins, executive director of the Missouri United Methodist Foundation. “The Lilly Endowment, Wespath, GBHEM, the UM Seminaries, the Missouri Conference and the Foundation joined forces in a way that could be a model for coordinating more UM resources for UM students.”

The new Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship program awarded over $1.66 million to 206 students nationally in 2017. The partnering organizations provided the following funding: $480,000 from GBHEM, $252,000 from the Lilly Endowment, $267,500 from 47 Annual Conferences, $127,500 from 17 United Methodist foundations and $532,500 from the 13 United Methodist seminaries.

The program grew out of a grant initiative of the Lilly Endowment aimed at helping United Methodist clergy avoid excessive educational loan debt and build financial acumen. Scholarship recipients must be full-time Master of Divinity students, attend one of the 13 UM seminaries and be certified candidates for ministry in their respective conferences.

Recipients are required to complete a free financial wellness curriculum offered through Wespath and EY Financial Planning Services (formerly Ernst & Young). The curriculum includes assistance with cash flow, personal savings and debt management, retirement savings strategies, investment allocation decisions, understanding tax issues, and estate and insurance planning.

“The cost of traditional seminary education continues to rise,” Atkins said, “and this type of effort really addresses our shared commitment to sustain those who answer the call to professional ministry. It also equips students to be better pastoral leaders in a complex financial world.”

The five Missouri recipients for Fall 2017 are: Jill Arnold (Boston University School of Theology), Jennifer Essary (Iliff School of Theology), Britton Fields (Saint Paul School of Theology), Brittanee Jacobs (Saint Paul School of Theology) and Andrew Sanders (United Theological Seminary). This was the first year of the pilot project which will be funded again in 2018. All students must reapply for Fall 2018 consideration.

All eligible candidates attending one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries are encouraged to apply. Scholarship applications for 2018 will be open between January 3 and March 1 on the GBHEM website. For a link to that application and more information about this and other seminary scholarship opportunities visit https:// mumf.org/students/seminary-scholarships.

Both Wespath and the Missouri UM Foundation received Lilly Endowment grants under the same Lilly initiative. In addition to scholarships, the Foundation’s C2FM program provides educational resources and direct aid for all active clergy in Missouri. Learn more at https://mumf.org/c2fm.