Every year, the United Methodist Church sets aside the last Sunday in November as United Methodist Student Day (UMSD). On that Sunday, thousands of congregations receive a special offering to support students financially as they pursue their post-secondary and graduate education. The money given supports scholarships for young United Methodists across the United States.
The Student Day offering makes a difference, and churches can choose to take it whenever they wish. United Methodists can also give online anytime.
Whenever your church chooses to take the Student Day offering, it is important to remind congregants who they are supporting through their gifts. No one does that better than the students themselves. Invite United Methodist college/graduate students in your congregation or visiting students who previously attended to speak during the Sunday service.
Here are some talking points for the students who will speak to your congregation on United Methodist Student Day.
Share a little about yourself and your relationship to The United Methodist Church
Whether the speaker is a one-time guest or someone who grew up within the congregation, invite the student to start with a little background. Include ways being part of a United Methodist community had a positive impact, especially if it has any bearing on their education or vocational path. Did the student discover a love for music while singing in the church choir or feel a calling while taking part in youth ministry or going on a mission trip? Sharing the ways the church has blessed them is good a place to start.
Tell what you have gained so far from your education
Some students will already have a clear idea what they plan to do after graduation. Others (especially those in their first year of college) may still be exploring their options. In either case, students can talk about how their education is preparing them for their future.
Talk about any involvement in on-campus religious life or a local church
Many schools have active religious life programs that offer Bible studies, covenant discipleship or other accountability groups, chapel services and other Christian fellowship opportunities. Students might also be part of a congregation where they are attending school. Have them share the ways they continue to live out their faith while pursuing their education. Sadly, many people think of faith and higher education as being in conflict. These students can tell a different story.
Mention any local volunteerism or ways you are giving back
Many students are volunteers in their college community. Some schools require this. Students involved in campus service programs or local outreach/activism can remind the congregation that their generosity is being multiplied through the good works of students they support.
Above all, say thank you
The student should end the presentation by thanking the congregation on the behalf of all who have benefited from the gifts and support of United Methodists. Remind congregants that they make higher education possible with their financial gifts and through all the other ways they nurture and support the next generation of Christian leaders within the churches every day.
The church can also show its appreciation for the student’s witness on behalf of others. The pastor may offer a special prayer asking blessings for the student in their continued studies. Treating the student to lunch after service or giving a small gift is a nice touch – especially if the student does not have family in the congregation.
Learn more about United Methodist Student Day and access additional promotional resources.
Philip J. Brooks is a writer/content developer on the leader team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. While a student at United Methodist-related Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, he frequently spoke to his home congregation on United Methodist Student Day.