New Scholarship to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders


North Georgia Conference, Seminaries, to Match Generous Scholarship 

The Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has announced the creation of a new scholarship that launches January 3, 2017, for students enrolled in United Methodist seminaries. The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship was created to help entering United Methodist clergy avoid excessive educational loan debt, minimize financial stress, and build financial acumen. 

Wespath, GBHEM, and the National Association of United Methodist Foundations collaborated on a proposal and were awarded a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The proposal included implementing half of the grant as a "loan avoidance" scholarship for United Methodist seminarians pursuing elder or deacon ordination.

In addition to the Lilly grant, the scholarship will be matched by the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology (including Candler and Gammon), and the North Georgia Conference will match the scholarship for selected North Georgia United Methodist certified candidates.

The matching contributions offer selected applicants an opportunity to receive scholarship award amounts ranging from $2,500 to $12,500. 

To be eligible for the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship, applicants must be enrolled full-time as a Master of Divinity student at one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology, and be pursuing certified candidacy or a certified candidate for ministry (elder or deacon) in The United Methodist Church. (Note that due to the amount of scholarship and the shared source of funding, scholarship recipients will not be eligible for MEF funds.)

"We encourage all of the North Georgia Conference certified candidates to apply for this scholarship," said Rev. Ashley Jenkins, Associate Director of Ministerial Services. "Even those who aren't selected for this scholarship will be included in a pool of candidate for other scholarships through The United Methodist Church."

An additional benefit of the scholarship program is the required financial wellness curriculum offered through EY Financial Planning Services. EY (formerly Ernst & Young) has provided financial planning services to retirement plan participants in Wespath-administered plans since 2005. Scholarship awards will be contingent upon the completion of a 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.

“The work we do in the Office of Loans and Scholarships is much more than financial dealings with students. We are committed to providing students with the resources they need to gain an education and become difference makers in our church and in the world,” said Allyson

Collinsworth, executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarships. “With the announcement of this new scholarship, we reaffirm our commitment to educational access and ministry excellence for our future clergy leaders.”

Those interested in the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship may apply with the Office of Loans and Scholarships at Scholarship applications will be open between January 3 and March 1 of each year. Interested students should indicate that they are applying for the “Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship” on the first page of the application.

For more information, North Georgia United Methodist candidates can contact Rev. Ashley Jenkins at or 678 533-1371.