Survey Reveals Opportunities for NASCUMC / GBGM Partnership

December 05, 2013

By Nicole Burdakin
Leaders of United Methodist-related schools, colleges, and universities are ready and willing to form partnerships with the General Board of Global Ministries for service projects, internships, and student exchanges in Africa.
Members of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church were surveyed about their interest in partnering with the church’s mission agency after the Feb. 3 – 4, 2013, meeting of NASCUMC. Staff from GBGM discussed their work and how they might partner with educators at that meeting. NASCUMC is an association of schools, colleges, and universities committed to the historic and distinctive values of United Methodist-related education.
“I am more impressed than ever with what I hear my colleague presidents saying about wanting to be in an even closer connection to the church,” said Colleen Perry Keith, Spartanburg Methodist College President and president of NASCUMC. “We are all concerned about making disciples of Jesus Christ, and as United Methodist-related colleges, we are committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that make sense for a college to be. Our work with GBGM is one way that makes sense.”
At the meeting, which was organized by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and NASCUMC, members and GBGM staff discussed how to best work together to find new ways to do the work of the church. This discussion resulted in the partnership survey.
NASCUMC/GBGM partnerships discussed in this survey could advance the mission work of the church through service projects, exchange programs, and/or mission interns.
Eighty-four individuals responded to the survey, and more than half of the respondents were CEOs. Some highlights of the findings are:
* 82 percent of respondents are interested in partnering with UMCOR and other NASCUMC institutions on a coordinated spring, summer, or winter-break service project.
* 85 percent would like to promote the US-2, Mission Intern, and Global Mission Fellows programs on their campuses.
* 50 percent of respondents are interested in developing partnerships that enable student exchanges in Africa.
* 66 percent of respondents would like to partner with GBGM to develop a course or internship around cross-cultural learning.
“This survey will be the first in a series of partnership surveys GBHEM will administer to more closely link the work of our educational institutions and agencies,” said Melanie Overton, GBHEM’s assistant general secretary for Schools, Colleges, and Universities. “We hope the success we found here will be replicated in surveys with many of the church’s agencies.”
Keith credits Dr. David Rowe, president of Centenary College of Louisiana and chair of the NASCUMC Program Planning Committee, with beginning the search for closer partnerships between general agencies and UM-related education institutions.
“The ideas that have spun out of that very first meeting, in which the presidents learned of the scope of GBGM’s work, are impressive,” Keith said. “And the possibilities for truly living into what it means to be a connectional system would make John Wesley proud.”
Overton and Keith look forward to the partnerships or programs that result from last February’s discussion and/or this survey. “I fully expect that going forward,” Keith said, “we will see such things as: rich and meaningful partnerships with agencies like UMCOR for service projects; mission fellows spending time on college campuses; or courses or internships that look at cross-cultural learning for college students. Truly the possibilities are endless.”
The general secretaries of GBGM and GBHEM viewed the survey results as positive.
“Our focus is working together to help young people discover that the yearning they feel to make a difference is the Holy Spirit moving in their lives, calling them into ministry. We are working together to help them connect their God-given passions with ministry opportunities,” said the Rev. Kim Cape, GBHEM’s general secretary.
Thomas Kemper, general secretary of GBGM, agreed: “I believe it is another very positive sign of growing collaboration and networking within our connection.”
The next NASCUMC partnership survey is planned for February 2014 following NASCUMC’s meeting with the General Board of Church and Society.
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