Stories of GBHEM and GBGM Scholarships: First of a Series of Stories

December 17, 2020

We reached out to the Rev. Kristin Stoneking, appointed pastor at Epworth United Methodist Church in Berkeley, California when we learned that she is one of the twenty (20) recipients of the 2020 General Board of Higher Education and Ministry scholarships and awards from our California-Nevada Conference of the UMC. We sent out a congratulatory letter to her and the other recipients.
We also learned and congratulated her with exuberant joy that we can now address her as, “The Rev. Dr. Kristin Stoneking.”
It was very delightful to hear her joy after completing to defend her dissertation paper. With her permission, we are featuring her in these series of articles as we promote and advocate to seek financial assistance from our agencies such as the General Board of Higher Education and the General Board of Global Ministries. We collaborated with her in writing.
In 2010 after completing construction on a multi-faith residential community at the United Methodist campus ministry at UC Davis and following a sabbatical fellowship at Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, Kristin Stoneking started PhD studies at the Graduate Theological Union.

In her first three years of study, Stoneking received the Baker Graduate Award from GBHEM, a grant for doctoral studies specifically targeted to those serving the church through campus ministry. In 2014, she went on leave from her PhD program to lead the interfaith peace and justice organization, the Fellowship of Reconciliation in New York.

Now serving Epworth United Methodist in Berkeley, Stoneking returned to PhD studies at the GTU this year through a general grant from GBHEM and continuing education support from the Board of Ordained Ministry.
This month, Stoneking completed all requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree and defended her dissertation which studied the strengths of multi-faith communities and constructed an enhanced pedagogy to unlock their potentials through a framework of nonviolence and comparative theology. She says, “For clergy who feel called to continue their education beyond the MDiv degree, support is available. I highly encourage it; the process of study and further study has enhanced my ministry and has been an enjoyable journey.”

(Click here to see the video of Dr. Kristin Stoneking interviewed by GBHEM)
One of the objectives in writing these series of articles is to promote and advocate to our youth who are preparing to go college, young adults who are considering graduate school and those discerning the ordained ministry and those who considering doing doctoral studies, to seek financial assistance through scholarships and loans that our general agencies such as the General Board of Higher Education and Ministries and the General Board of Global Ministries.
When the Rev. Dr. Felicisimo Cao went to the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley as an international student from the Philippines in 1997, he was admitted taking up the Master of Arts in Personality Sciences degree program and later shifted to the Doctor of Ministry Program, he received the GBGM Leadership Development Grant. It is indeed very expensive to do graduate studies, but our general agencies are resourcing and investing in the lives of the lay and clergy leaders in our UMC connection.
Rev. Dr. Reginald Nichols, Director of Leadership Development in our Annual Conference, affirms the value of the scholarships as an investment in the future of our church and the communities they serve.  He states, “This is a critical time to support our students who are pursuing their educational dreams and God’s calling on their lives. Through the scholarships and loans offered by the GBHEM and the support of our Annual Conference, we can help make those dreams a reality.”
So, on behalf of all of us in the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Conference Board on Higher Education and Campus Ministries and the Conference Committee on Young People’s Ministry, we thank you Rev. Dr. Stoneking for following God’s call on your life. 

We also encourage those in our Conference to look for upcoming information and future articles about scholarship opportunities, deadlines, and other higher education news.