United Methodist board creates global education fund
Mar. 14, 2006
NOTE: Photographs are available at http://umns.umc.org.
By Linda Green*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's education agency is creating a global fund that will help Methodist schools around the world develop leaders and become more effective.
The more than 720 Methodist educational institutions outside the United States are looking to the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the denomination's University Senate for assistance in collaborative programs and peer review.
The board seeks to raise $3 million to $4 million over the next three years for the Methodist Global Education Fund to provide technical support and scholarship aid to those schools. The global education initiative was launched as an unfunded mandate by the 2004 General Conference and was designated as a World Service giving special of the denomination.
Meeting March 9-11, the board's directors were told the fund would be a catalyst for transforming the United Methodist Church into a truly global denomination. The fund will benefit the worldwide Methodist connection, whether United Methodist or not.
Globalization is defined as looking at the world order in a new way, said Vivian Bull of Madison, N.J., a consultant to the task force creating the Methodist Global Education Fund. She said academic institutions across the globe are seeking connections and relationships with one another to give students opportunities to study abroad, to gain an understanding of other ways of life.
"The Methodist Global Education Fund is as exciting to me as the Africa University project," said Bishop Herbert Skeete, co-chairman of the fund task force. In written greetings to the board, he said, "Our mission challenge is to develop a visionary fiscal design to move out of the weak unstructured pattern that has plagued our Methodist education programs around the world.
"We must seek a constructive partnership now in the growing areas of our church which will bear much fruit in the future," he said. The task force includes six retired bishops, educators and consultants.
A model of partnership
The fund will be developed in five regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Its mission will be to help develop new Christian leaders and to improve and strengthen the Methodist schools, colleges, universities and theological schools throughout the connection. The United Methodist Church alone has 123 academic institutions and 13 related theological institutions in the United States.
Each region will have a governing and administrative organization, modeled after the University Senate in the United States, and each region will be responsible for raising a pool of money to be shared with the other regions.
"A dependency relationship is not what we seek but rather a model of partnership of sharing, giving and receiving," Bull said.
She noted that students attending Methodist schools today are going to be more "internationally interdependent than has ever been possible in the past, and the more we can encourage and support wide access and integration of the education of our students, the greater they will be in helping us ... bring leadership to a world that is in desperate need of leadership."
The senate, established in 1882, is one of the oldest accrediting bodies in the United States. Its mission was to ensure that schools, colleges and universities related to the church were worthy of carrying the denomination's name. In recent years, regional bodies have accredited academic institutions, and the senate has focused more on how institutions are related to the United Methodist Church.
Changing the world
The fund will help the church transform the world, spread the gospel and make disciples of Jesus Christ, according to the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino.
"There is nothing that is more disconcerting than to make a claim and not have the resources to achieve it," he said. The fund will enable the United Methodist Church "to tell the truth and live the truth" about being global in its intentions, especially as it relates to schools, colleges, universities and theological schools related to Methodism, he said.
"The MGEF will enable a United Methodist presence and leadership in higher education worldwide, an opportunity that is available only to us as members of the Protestant family of churches, he said.
The fund's main objective is to create "dynamic leaders who can transform people and society as a whole," said Ken Yamada, a board staff member.
In other actions, the board:
* Heard an update on Africa University and churchwide meetings being held on the campus this summer. * Worked on the agency's strategic plan with a goal of increasing enrollment at United Methodist-related schools by 10 percent by 2012. * Learned about the United Methodist Council of Bishops' Vision Pathways and how they affect the agency's work. The pathways were developed to support the bishops' emphasis on making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. * Received a report from a commission studying ministry in the church. * Heard that the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation will award $1.5 million in loans and scholarships to 1,000 students. * Affirmed a resolution from the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church responding to last fall's Judicial Council decision reinstating a pastor who denied church membership to an openly gay man. * Learned that the board, through its Division of Higher Education, is pledging $20,000 to Birmingham-Southern College in support of the school's efforts to help rebuild burned churches in rural Alabama. * Passed a resolution in support of United Methodist two-year residential colleges.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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