Scholarships help relieve clergy debt


Excellence in Clergy Leadership Image
The Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), a center for leadership development across the denomination, today awarded more than $1.66 million to 206 recipients of the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship was created to help United Methodist clergy avoid excessive educational loan debt, minimize financial stress and build financial acumen.
Each recipient is awarded amounts ranging from $2,500 to $12,500. The scholarship recipients represent 47 of the 57 United Methodist Annual Conferences. Funding for the scholarship comes from matching donors—GBHEM, the Lilly Endowment, the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology, and participating United Methodist Annual Conferences and Foundations. The donations included: $480,000 from GBHEM, $252,000 from the Lilly Endowment, $267,500 from Annual Conferences, $127,500 from United Methodist foundations and $532,500 from the 13 United Methodist seminaries.
GBHEM, Wespath Benefits and Investments (formerly the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits) and the National Association of United Methodist Foundations partnered to apply for a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to address economic challenges facing pastoral leaders, which includes funding for the scholarship and other initiatives.
The scholarship is designed for full-time Master of Divinity students attending one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology. The recipients are also certified candidates for ministry (elder or deacon) or pursuing certified candidacy in The United Methodist Church. The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship is based on merit, leadership capacity, financial need, and the recipients must demonstrate how the scholarship will help them avoid additional student loans.
“Our mission is to provide resources for the future leaders of The United Methodist Church,” said Allyson Collinsworth, executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarships. “The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship is one way we are reaching our mission and providing financial assistance to our future clergy leaders. However, it would not have been possible without our many partners—Wespath, EY, Annual Conferences, United Methodist foundations and the United Methodist seminaries and schools of theology—we have in this initiative. We thank each of them for their continued collaboration.”
An additional benefit of the scholarship program is the required financial wellness curriculum offered through EY Financial Planning Services (formerly Ernst & Young). Scholarship awards are contingent upon the completion of the financial wellness curriculum, valued at $2,500 to $3,500 to the student. The curriculum through EY includes assistance with cash flow, personal savings and debt management, retirement savings strategies, investment allocation decisions, understanding tax issues, and estate and insurance planning. Scholarship recipients will complete a financial wellness assessment, a comprehensive and customized financial plan, and a personalized guidance consultation with a licensed planner.
All seminary students are encouraged to apply for the scholarship even if their annual conference is not participating because other donor funds may be available. Scholarship applications will be open between January 3 and March 1 of each year at
For more information on GBHEM and the Office of Loans and Scholarships, please visit

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


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Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

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Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
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