Special Sunday offerings benefit Oklahoman students
A future educator. An aspiring family lawyer. Seminarians. These represent just a few of the students from the Oklahoma Conference who receive support from the special Sunday scholarship funds at the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Trinity Jordan knows how important these scholarships are during uncertain times.
“With the help of this scholarship, I have been able to focus my energy on learning to adapt to the unstable semester, because I have been less focused on the financial stress that comes with every new semester,” she said.
Jordan, a member of Elk City and student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, is one of 23 students who received financial assistance this last year.
She is studying psychology and hopes to someday give back to her community by working as an advocate for veterans and their loved ones, either as a partner in treatment or counselor who works to diagnose and treat those who are suffering.
According to Allyson Potts, executive director of loans and scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, $5.6 million in financial assistance was distributed to more than 2,100 students for 2020.
Potts encourages congregations to support special Sunday offerings which fund a portion of the scholarships, including United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday and Native American Sunday. The remaining funds for these awards come from gifts, annuities and endowments GBHEM has invested and administered for decades.
In 2019, 52 Oklahoma congregations contributed $14,519 in special offerings for those three days while our students were awarded $32,500 in scholarships and grants. These young people represent 17 churches in our annual conference. Students going to Oklahoma City University received one fourth of the total awarded.
Gifts for student scholarships do not go unnoticed.
“I am grateful and honored to receive assistance from my church,” said Jordan. “To be so loved by my church is like a big hug that served as a reminder that no matter what may lie ahead, my church family will be a constant line of support for me.
Rev. Derrek Belase, director of Connectional Ministry for the conference, encourages churches to find creative ways to take the offerings and utilize the denominational resources for the offerings, which can be found here.
“Imagine what would happen if every church made a small contribution to these special Sunday offerings,” Belase said. “So much good can happen when we support young people with their educations. Connectional giving is a great way to do that.”
Students who are members of The United Methodist Church may apply for a Fall 2021 GBHEM scholarship online between December 15, 2020 and March 24, 2021 at www.gbhem.org/scholarshipapplication.
Student loans are also available with a credit worthy cosigner at interest rates as low as 3.75 percent, which is lower than average federal educational loan rates. The United Methodist Student Spring Loan application is open through May 5, 2021 at www.gbhem.org/loanapplication.
2021 Special Sundays
Native American Sunday - April 18
World Communion Sunday - October 3
United Methodist Student Day - November 28