(GBHEM) - The combination of the recession and an online application process dramatically increased the demand for United Methodist loans and scholarships this year - making contributions to the Student Day, World Communion Sunday, and Native American Ministries Sunday offerings even more important.
More than 9,000 students applied for United Methodist scholarships this year (although only 2,877 completed all the required recommendations and documentation by the May 15 deadline), according to Angella Current-Felder, executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
GBHEM awarded 3,365 students about $4.6 million in scholarships in 2008. Awards totals are not complete for 2009 yet, but so far, the Board has provided another $1.6 million in loans to 333 students this year.
Last year, $554,252 was given to the United Methodist Student Day offering, which helps fund the loans and scholarships. Churches are encouraged to observe Student Day on November 29 or any other day that is convenient for the church.
World Communion Sunday is observed on October 4. In 2008, $1,028,865 was given to the World Communion Sunday offering. Half of the offering provides scholarships for international and U.S. racial- and ethnic-minority graduate students. Thirty-five percent of the receipts supports ethnic scholarships for undergraduate students, and 15 percent funds Ethnic In-Service Training Program scholarships for racial- and ethnic-minority persons seeking second careers in church-related vocations.
Native American Ministries Sunday, which will fall on April 18, 2010, nurtures mission with Native Americans and provides scholarships for United Methodist Native American seminarians. Churches may celebrate this Special Sunday and take an offering on any day they choose.
Ninety percent of Student Day collections goes to the Board's scholarship programs, while 10 percent goes for student loans. Each United Methodist-related college gets money from the offering for scholarships, and each participating Annual Conference gets 10 percent of Student Day receipts to award to its own merit scholars.
How to Support UM Loans and Scholarships
Donate online at www.umcgiving.org, where you may also order free promotional resources, video presentations, and worship resources for Special Sundays with offerings. Or call United Methodist Communications at 888.346.3862 to order resources.