Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation insights
Each year in the Oklahoma Conference, January marks Foundation Month. This January, the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation is raising awareness for a special fund at the Foundation. The Pastor Education Fund was created as a way to help alleviate the financial burden of seminary tuition for bright and talented individuals called to pastoral ministry.
The Oklahoma Conference is home to many great pastors. We are fortunate to call Bob Long, Mouzon Biggs, Linda Harker and many other talented clergymen and women our own.
Pastors play vital roles in the lives of those sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings as well as those in the community. They shepherd and disciple those in their Christian walk, comfort and care for those in times of need, and equip people to discern God’s call to Go and Make Disciples.
Giving thanks for our great pastors also calls us to look to the future. Who will be the next generation of clergy in the Oklahoma Conference? Where will they come from? Surveys show many young people have the desire to go into ministry but are deterred by the cost and potential debt incurred to attend seminary. Unfortunately, the current seminary education system continues to become more expensive with fewer scholarship opportunities available.
The average cost of tuition, books, and fees for a United Methodist seminary is more than $60,000 over three years, yet the beginning salary for new pastors is significantly lower. Many clergy begin their ministry owing $50,000 or more on student loans. This is unmanageable for a pastor, especially a young pastor in the first few years of ministry.
The Foundation recognized this challenge and created the Pastor Education Fund as a response.
The Milburn Family of Shawnee has partnered with the Foundation in raising funds for the scholarship.
They will generously match every dollar given to the fund, up to $1 million.
Fully funded, the Pastor Education Fund will help recruit qualified clergy candidates and scholarship them through seminary without the burden of debt.
In recognition of Foundation Month, please join the Foundation in taking up this cause and Milburn’s offer.
Each church has been sent bulletin inserts about the Pastor Education Fund. We ask that you use the inserts to raise awareness about the fund and end the month with a special offering on Jan. 26 for the Pastor Education Fund.
We know the important role of pastors, and with the help of every Oklahoma United Methodist, we can help ensure future clergy in the Oklahoma Conference have the opportunity to faithfully respond to God’s call to ministry without debt looming overhead.
For more information about the Pastor Education Fund or the ministry of the Foundation, visit www.okumf.org, or call 800-259-6863.