Fund Offers Money and Support to Future Pastors and Those Who Teach Them
$1.5 million in fellowships and programs will help gifted students
pursue theological education in challenging times
ATLANTA, Decembe 08, 2009 – Gifted students across the U.S. and Canada who aspire to be pastoral leaders and professors can get help for their journeys through Fund for Theological Education (FTE) fellowships for the 2010-2011 academic year.
The FTE Fellowships will provide $1.5 million in monetary awards and leadership development opportunities for excellent students from diverse backgrounds. The nationally competitive fellowships support talented students who are preparing for pastoral ministry and doctoral students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups who plan to teach religion, theology or biblical studies.
“Despite economic uncertainty and the multiple challenges of pursuing a theological education, we hear from hundreds of gifted young people who long to pursue the call to ministry and teaching,” said Dr. Trace Haythorn, president of The Fund for Theological Education. “They need and deserve our support. And at this pivotal moment of change within and among all Christian denominations, the church needs the intellect and passion they offer to sustain quality leadership across generations.”
FTE Ministry Fellowships are available for undergraduates who are exploring ministry; students with congregational support who are entering Master of Divinity (M.Div.) programs at accredited theological schools; recent participants in faith-based volunteer service organizations who are enrolling in M. Div. programs; and second-year seminary students who demonstrate exceptional gifts for pastoral leadership. FTE Doctoral Fellowships provide financial stipends and networking support to African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and Native American students who demonstrate high academic performance, gifts for leadership and a commitment to teach in North American theological schools. Eligibility requirements, nomination materials and applications are available at www.thefund.org/programs.
Enrollment in the M.Div. programs that prepare students for the profession of ministry have been flat or declining over the past two years and interest in congregational ministry among current seminary students has also diminished. In addition, one-third of North American theological schools do not have a scholar of color on their faculties, even as they serve increasingly diverse students and communities. As a nonprofit, ecumenical advocate for excellence and diversity in pastoral ministry and theological scholarship, FTE seeks to reverse these trends by supporting qualified candidates for both professions.
How many of those students are thinking about going to seminary? The most recent Lewis Center for Church Leadership study shows that in many denominations, the percentage of younger clergy (younger than 35) has slipped close to 5 percent or even less. The study said that church leaders gathered recently to discuss clergy age trends, and were asked the question “Why are young clergy important?” They responded with comments such as:
However, not everyone who feels a call to ministry is ready to go out and begin planting or leading churches. The level of experience and training needed to be successful in ministry – not to mention the cost of additional education – can be overwhelming.
That’s why I’m reaching out to you. I work with The Fund for Theological Education (FTE), an organization that provides $1.5 million in fellowships and programs to help students pursue a theological education. The nationally competitive fellowships support talented students who are preparing for pastoral ministry and doctoral students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups who plan to teach religion, theology or biblical studies.
More information about these fellowships is included in the press release below. If you are interested, I would be happy to connect you with FTE’s President, Trace Haythorn, to talk about the importance of higher education and training for those interested in entering ministry.
Application deadlines are approaching, so we want to be sure students know about these fellowships as soon as possible! Feel free to contact me with any questions. My hope is that many students considering seminary will know that support is available for them, and StudentSoul.org is a perfect outlet to reach those students.