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Scholarships: essential tools of mission

World Communion Scholars Juliana de Souza, Annie Solis Escalante and Cangfu Wang.

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World Communion Sunday's scholars program is a centerpiece of our connectional system.

Shortly after I took my current job at Global Ministries, we had a visit from The Rev. Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council. He began his remarks to us not by telling about the impressive Christian growth in China but by thanking The United Methodist Church for his post-graduate education in the United States.  “I was one of three Chinese students sent to the United States in 1991 to study theology under the Crusade Scholarship program in partnership with the China Christian Council," he said, speaking through a translator. "Without the support of United Methodists, I would not be president of the China Christian Council today."

Dr. Feng is one of what we today call World Communion Scholars. This program is a centerpiece in our system of support for clergy and lay leadership development in global Methodism and ecumenical Christianity.

Scholarships equip a new generation of leaders for mission and ministry and increase the mission capacity of The United Methodist Church and our mission partners around the world.

We work hard to find recipients who are committed to post-study return to ministries in their home countries. We try to avoid contributing to a brain-drain from poorer countries, bringing their brightest and best into western societies, where they may remain. Our scholarships are not just about individuals but about the leadership needs and capacity building in their respective societies. I am pleased that our scholarships build institutional and organizational capacity as well as to sharpen the minds and skills of the students. The priorities are flexible since the needs of mission partners unfold over time.

Diversity of Recipients

We try more and more to give scholarship to global South recipients who are educated in the Global South.  For example, World Communion Scholar Juliana de Souza pursues a Ph.D. degree in race relations within the educational system in Brazil at the Universidad Federal do Ceara in Fortaleza, Brazil. From Peru, Annie Solis Escalante received a master’s degree in social management and public health from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in Lima. She is now a Global Ministries’ mission intern working with the health program of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, and will return to Peru.

One new student in theology in the Fall of 2013 is Cangfu Wang, a young pastor from China, who came to our attention through the China Christian Council, the organization of Dr. Gao Feng, our World Communion legacy scholar. He is enrolled in the Claremont School of Theology in southern California.

The importance and value of mission scholarships was borne out recently when one of our Crusade Scholars made a significant contribution to the future of education for ministry in Peru, her home country. Her gift honors Jane M. McKinney, the missionary who was principal of the Maria Alvarado High School in Lima where the donor began her education. 

Thomas Kemper, general secretary, General Board of Global Ministries

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God’s children. The special offering provides World Communion Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.

When you give generously on World Communion Sunday, you equip gifted, qualified students from around the globe to become the world changers God created them to be. Give now.

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