“I have found mission work to be valuable and worthwhile,” said World Communion Sunday scholarship recipient Charles Martin-Stanley.
“It reminds me that we are all connected in this world and have a shared responsibility for each other.” Already the first-year student at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, knows what it means to follow Christ and to minister to his neighbor locally and globally, two callings he believes are irrevocably connected.
Charles grew up in the United Methodist tradition, attending Onalaska (Wis.) United Methodist Church. He claims his faith helped him overcome cultural shock and diversity issues as a child.
“I was one of only a few black males in my school, church and community,” he recalled. “I used this challenge to educate others about my culture and what it means to live, work and serve in a culturally diverse society. I tried to serve as a positive role model for the other young African-American males at my high school.”
Charles values his church experience. “Being a faithful member of Onalaska Church contributed to my character development,” he asserted. He assumed leadership roles in the youth group, participating in community service projects. He assisted older adults with yard work, visited nursing homes and wrote letters to homebound persons.
“Last summer,” Charles said, “I served as the youth coordinator at the Neighborhood City Church in La Crosse, Wis. I organized all the youth activities, including Sunday Bible study.”
But Charles’ interest in spreading social holiness has extended far beyond his own church and community. “I have been involved in five summer mission trips,” he said. “These experiences have shaped my beliefs about the importance of providing service to others. I experienced firsthand how much one person can make a difference. Each of my mission trips exceeded my expectations. I didn’t expect to feel as connected to the people I served and strengthened by them as well.”
All the work Charles has done and plans to do is the result of his faith. “The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church have helped me to develop a commitment to social justice issues,” he continued. “One of my favorite quotes by John Wesley I learned in eighth-grade confirmation class: ‘Do all you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’ I hope this quote will continue to guide my life and help me to make good decisions that will benefit others.”
Charles is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. He plans to do more mission work in the future. “My college classes will help me to develop more specific goals,” he said. “However, because I am a believer in the concept of servant-leader, I am sure this will factor into my future plans.”
Charles is one of many students who received a scholarship through the World Communion Sunday offering. United Methodists across the connection contribute to support the education of racial and ethnic students who will become leaders in their churches and communities.
“Supporting World Communion Sunday is one important way the church can support the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church,” he said. “The money raised provides opportunities for many students around the world.”
Celebrated on the first Sunday in October, World Communion Sunday means more than joining with sisters and brothers around the globe for the sacrament. It is also an opportunity to support World Communion Scholarships, Ethnic Scholarships and Ethnic In-Service Training through a special offering. Begun by the Presbyterians in 1936, the observance soon spread to other denominations, and each determines if a special offering will be collected and how it will be used.
Please encourage your congregation to give generously on World Communion Sunday this year. Your gifts help students like Charles to learn the skills and life lessons essential to leadership roles in the church and society. To learn more about World Communion Sunday, click here.
--by Philip J. Brooks Field Education Intern for United Methodist Communications
You can give to the World Communion Sunday offering at any time by clicking here.