Mission Agency Approves Grants for Global Scholarships
By Elliott Wright and Linda Unger*
New York, NY, March 23, 2016—Students in pastoral care, health ministries, urban ministry, and water and environmental engineering from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United States, and Haiti respectively are among the 32 new recipients of major scholarships from the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Three other new scholars from Africa will study food security and sustainable agriculture at the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, a long-time United Methodist mission partner.
A total of 140 scholars worldwide, including 108 continuing grantees, will share $811,825.00 in leadership development stipends from the mission agency for the 2016-2017 academic year. Global Ministries’ board of directors, meeting in New York on March 17 and 18, approved the allocations.
Danny Umba, one of the scholarship recipients, plays with children in the Philippines, where he served as a Global Mission Fellow (class 2013–2015) with Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute in Mindanao. Photo courtesy of Danny Umba
Danny Umba, who was born in DRC and grew up in Tanzania; and Kathleen Pryor, from Red Oak, Texas, are former Global Mission Fellows, a category of short-term (two years) young adult missionary. Umba is studying for a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree in pastoral care at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Pryor is pursuing an M.Div. in urban ministry at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
Kathleen Pryor with preschool children at Moore Community House in Biloxi, Mississippi. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Pryor
Annette Rodriguez, who is from the Bronx, N.Y., is combining theological study at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, with an already-earned master’s degree in health services management. Her particular interest is in senior and end-of-life care in faith-based health care institutions.
Annette Rodriguez from Bronx, N.Y., holds particular interest in senior and end-of-life care in faith-based health care institutions. Photo: Courtesy of Annette Rodriguez
Gaël Jennie Fleurant, from Ouanaminthe, Haiti, is studying water and environmental engineering at Red Rocks Community College, Lakewood, Colorado, a school known for its work with developing countries, especially in the area of water-quality management.
Abraham Brese and Yao Paul Kpai, both from Ghana, and Matele Maswi Mwita from Tanzania will enroll in the food security and sustainable agriculture course of study at the Asian Rural Institute. The institute was founded in 1973 to train grassroots leaders to become more effective as they work, through integrated organic farming techniques, community building, and servant leadership with the poor, the hungry, and the marginalized.
Lives lived for others
Those persons receiving Global Ministries’ scholarships are characteristically highly motivated women and men with rich spiritual lives and deep commitments to living their lives for others,” according to Lisa Katzenstein, the mission executive in charge of leadership development for Global Ministries. ”Through the church’s financial support and accompaniment, these students are able to complete their study goals to prepare themselves for strategic work in their local communities.
Umba’s interest in pastoral care was honed by his Global Mission Fellow service in the Philippines. He says he learned he could not fill all the material needs of the poor, but he could value all people. “I learned to value everyone, especially those I am serving.”
His work in the Philippines was in conflict resolution between Christians and Muslims on the island of Mindanao.
Pryor spent her Global Mission Fellow service with Moore Community House, a center serving a low-income community in East Biloxi, Mississippi. After completing her seminary degree, she hopes to work in a nontraditional pastoral appointment that will give women, children, and youth “a place to live and thrive,” she says. Her two years at Moore opened her eyes to a range of issues affecting vulnerable families and communities and helped her to discern God’s call to ministry.
Rodriguez has a special interest in health ministries focused on seniors and end-of-life care. “I have noticed,” she says, “that in predominantly black and Latino communities there is a stigma against nursing homes and hospice care. That can make care for the elderly particularly challenging. Alternatively, access to home health aides is expensive, unreliable, and often not covered by insurance.”
After seminary, Rodriguez hopes to open a senior adult and hospice care center in the Bronx. She is seeking in her study to find grounding in “the Wesleyan principles of grace, spiritual renewal, and a practical application of Christian theology in the real world.”
Fleurant’s youth in a Haitian town with little pure water motivated her studies in water and environmental engineering. In addition to Global Ministries’ scholarship, her work at Red Rocks Community College is being assisted and encouraged by the Broomfield United Methodist Church in Colorado.
The two Ghanaian students to attend ARI in Japan, Brese and Kpai, were recommended by missionary Mozart Adevu, Africa regional coordinator for the Sustainable Agriculture and Development Program for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), based in Accra, Ghana. The two students work with local partners, the Osramanae Beekeeper’s Association and the Environmental Development Youth Movement, respectively.
Maswi Mwita of Tanzania was recommended by missionary Eric Soard and has been identified to develop sustainable agriculture work for this Mission Initiative. Maswi Mwita just completed several months of intensive English in order to prepare for his training at ARI.
Funds for Global Ministries’ scholarships come from a variety of sources and fall into several categories, including World Communion Scholarships, funded by the World Communion Special Sunday offering. Other money comes from endowment, legacies, and the agency’s permanent funds.
The scholarship allocations were among the major mission grants authorized by directors at the March meeting. Numerous grants were approved for ethnic minority ministries in the U.S. from special funds provided to Global Ministries by the denomination’s legislating General Conference. The agency administers four of six ethnic or language ministry programs in the U.S., including the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, the Asian American Language Plan, the Korean Ministry Plan, and the Asian Pacific Plan. Most of these grants go to annual conferences to be used for starting or strengthening local ministries.
In global grants, the United Methodist Church in Poland received $27,900 toward its 2016 annual evangelistic event with a focus on young people. Set for August this year, the meeting will draw between 380 and 400 participants for a time of worship, celebration, and witness. The 2016 theme is “My Church and I Will Serve God,” an adaptation of Joshua 24:15. The four-day event was launched 15 years ago with 90 persons in attendance.
Additional grants included:
- $30,000 to Recovery at Cokesbury, a substance abuse recovery ministry begun 10 years ago by Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The program has expanded into a network spanning Tennessee and reaching into Georgia and Virginia, with seven current sites. It is exploring expansion into other areas as well. The ministry uses the effective, cost-efficient “Celebrate Recovery” model. The funds are from the Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV), a General Conference-mandated program.
- $17,500 toward the costs of the 2016 focus event of the Rural Chaplains Association, an association whose members engage in rural ministry, with the money going in part to cover the travel costs of Native American participants; funds come from United Methodist Voluntary Service Grants and Native American Ministries Sunday offerings.
- $10,000 to the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center for peer mediation training in peacebuilding as an alternative to violence among Palestinian youth in the Bethlehem area; funds are from restorative justice ministries.
- $5,000 to the Methodist Church of Uruguay for Healthy Smiles, a dental health project for young people in the small city of Bella Unión, near the borders Uruguay shares with Brazil and Argentina.
*Elliott Wright is an information consultant and Linda Unger is senior writer for the General Board of Global Ministries.