Reflections From the Field
Reflections From the Field – The First Six Months by Bruce Blumer
In a partnership between the United Methodist Church Development Center (UMCDC) and the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM), I was hired about six months ago to assist the GBHEM Office of Loans & Scholarships. My focus has been to make sure churches know about the availability of scholarships and loans through GBHEM, but also to increase the impact for future students through financial support of the Ministry of Scholarships. While it has been a busy first six months, I’ve been amazed in several ways.
First, this is a big, diverse United Methodist Church. I’ve now made personal visits to over 60 UM churches. I have been delighted that churches have been open to my visits. They have been appreciative of the information on the availability of loan and scholarships for the diverse group of students they have in their own congregations. Overwhelmingly pastors and staff have been positive and excited about how God has called their churches to ministry in the world
Second, the stories of inspiration I’ve heard from donors and churches on the transformation that financial assistance has made in the lives of real people has been heart-warming. Scholarships and loans do make a difference in allowing our leaders and future pastors to make an impact while receiving an education and after. If you have not already done so please read the story about Pavielle Jenkins. It demonstrates how the church embraced their family and allowed her to graduate debt-free from seminary and move on to responsible positions in the church. .
Third, we have more work to do. We know that getting timely information to Annual Conferences, churches, and potential applicants is important and difficult. While Churches and donors have a long list of significant ministries for financial support – we believe in the importance of scholarship membership on that list. We’re working on ways to promote scholarships that are available at the local church, through the Conference or Conference Foundation. The third leg of that stool is assistance through GBHEM.
Partnerships are important. The one between UMCDC and GHBEM will allow me to look forward to making more connections with churches, hearing more stories of impact, expanding the Ministry of Scholarships, and creating more avenues of support to forge the United Methodist Church’s future through higher education.
Bruce Blumer, Executive Director of Development