A Moment for Mission
I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you,
to make the word of God fully known. — Colossians 1:25 NRSV
Student loan debt in the United States is currently more than $ 1 trillion, spread between 43 million people. The average debt has increased 6 percent just this year. This increasing cost of both undergraduate and graduate education is concerning to anyone with plans to further their academic goals. This student loan debt crisis is also a concern for those seeking to pursue their call to ordained ministry.
The average debt for a student completing seminary has risen to nearly $50,000 — while the median salary for a recently graduated seminarian is $48,000 annually. This widening gap occurs at a time when The United Methodist Church is actively pursuing young clergy as many of our clergy are approaching retirement. Some who are exploring a calling are hesitant to incur a large sum of debt.
The Ministerial Education Fund is essential for The United Methodist Church to continue its commitment to recruit and educate quality pastoral leadership. It is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It helps support the 13 United Methodist seminaries and equips annual conferences with local pastor courses of study, continuing education and other efforts to recruit, educate and support people called to ordained and licensed ministry. The United Methodist Church is helping many of our clergy through the Ministerial Education Fund, which helps keep seminary costs down and provides scholarships.
Many are able to continue in the pursuit of their call to ordained ministry because of the Ministerial Education Fund. This fund is one of the seven designated by The United Methodist Church toward which we give our apportionments. When we give generously towards this fund, we support those who will lead the church in making disciples for the transformation of the world.
God, open us that we may hear your call. Grant courage to those who are hearing your call to ordained ministry. Grant us, your church, courage as we give generously to support the journeys of those who are pursuing that call. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Ninth Sunday After Pentecost - God of blessing, we rejoice that you are present with us by your faithful word and Spirit. At times you speak in unexpected ways, in the voice of a friend, neighbor, or stranger. May we come to know you so well that we discern your message of blessing in others' words. May our congregation become more like Abraham and Sarah, through whose offspring you have blessed the world. May we receive strangers and provide hospitality with no expectation of reward. We ask this through Christ Jesus. Amen. (Genesis 18:1-10)
Frederick Buechner wrote that "the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." In The United Methodist Church we believe that all of us are called to do something in order to carry out the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world. Some are called to ordained ministry either in the orders of elder or deacon.
Candidates need a seminary education to fulfill the calling to ordained ministry and equip them for ministry to come. With seminary costs on the rise and the student loan debt at a crisis point, The United Methodist Church has established the Ministerial Education Fund as one of our designated apportionments. This fund provides some relief for candidates by keeping educational costs down and providing scholarships. When we give to the Ministerial Education Fund through our apportionments, we are making a way for those pursuing ordained ministry to answer their call.