Special Sunday Offerings Have Profound Effects on Recipients
Catherine Hurd stays busy as a junior at Oklahoma City University. In addition to being active in the Wesley Center where she serves as an intern, she serves as vice- president of Better, Together, the campus’ interfaith organization.
This finance and economics double major is one of 26 students in Oklahoma who benefitted from scholarships given by the denomination. She received the Baxter Roelfson Sands Scholarship and a further allocation for being a United Methodist.
“This scholarship has immensely aided my education by allowing me to worry less about where to get the money to pay for school. Instead, I can focus more on getting the most out of my education at OCU,” she said.
Religious life is important to Hurd, a long-time member of Acts 2 in Edmond. She serves at the Billy Hooten UMC Food Pantry in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and a discipleship journey called HomeGroup as well as Wesley Worship on Monday, University Worship on Thursday, and other community events.
She plans to continue serving after she graduates. When asked about future plans, Hurd said, “I hope to work for a non-profit organization or church after graduation, using my business skills to further the impact these organizations make in our community.”
Hurd is also making an impact through her leadership in connecting various styles of worship on campus as chapel intern, according to Rev. Aly Shahan, director of religious life at OCU.
Reflecting on this work, she said, “Catherine is a dedicated intern for the office of Religious Life, is deeply involved in our Christian Women’s sisterhood, Kappa Phi, and does everything she can to help bring The Wesley Center thrive. She is kind, hardworking, dedicated, creative, and such a vital part of our team.”
According to Allyson Potts, executive director of loans and scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, $4 million in financial assistance was distributed to more than 2,000 students for 2022.
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 2022, 50 Oklahoma congregations contributed nearly $29,000 in special offerings for those three days while our students were awarded $44,000 in scholarships and grants.
Students going to Oklahoma City University received one fourth of the total awarded.
“That’s a return of $1.50 for every dollar donated. You can see the power of connectional giving,” said Rev. Derrek Belase, executive director of Connectional Ministry for the conference. “Imagine what would happen if we could do more!”
Gifts for student scholarships do not go unnoticed.
“Receiving assistance from my church means so much to me,” Hurd said. “My church has always been a meaningful, impactful place for me and to know that they care about my education so much is touching. Knowing that I have my church supporting me makes me feel honored and motivated to do the best I can in school.”
Belase encourages churches to find creative ways to take the offerings and utilize the denominational resources for the offerings, which can be found here.
Students who are members of The United Methodist Church may apply for a Fall 2023 GBHEM scholarship online until March 30, 2023.