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Student Day scholarship prepares seminarian to empower others for ministry


By Heather Peck Travis
November - December 2015

When Brittney Stephan was 14, she says she was terrified of public speaking. Ironically, she was also 14 when God called her into the ministry. She recalls writing a letter to her pastor, explaining her call to ministry but "very bluntly" stating that she would "absolutely not become a pastor."

"Little did I know," she adds, "that is exactly what I would be doing!"

United Methodist Student Day

Gifts made as United Methodist Student Day offerings support United Methodist scholarships and the United Methodist Student Loan Fund, administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The loans and scholarships office at Higher Education and Ministry administers over 70 scholarship programs. Criteria for each scholarship program vary; however, there are minimum requirements that apply for general eligibility consideration. Learn more at Click on Loans and Scholarships on the home page. Minimum requirements for applying for a loan are that the borrower must have been an active, full member of a United Methodist church for at least one year prior to application; must be at least 18 to complete the application; and must be enrolled in an accredited school at least half-time. All borrowers must have a co-signer.

The last Sunday of November is the official date for observing Student Day on the United Methodist calendar; however, churches may celebrate it and receive the offering on any Sunday they wish. Order posters and leaflet/envelopes by calling United Methodist Communications Customer Service, 888-346-3862.

The next year, she accepted an invitation to co-preach in her home church – Evangelical United Methodist – in Huntington, Indiana. Her pastor, the Rev. Marti Lundy, helped ease her fears and calm her nerves. "About halfway through that sermon, I realized I was actually being called to preach, whether I wanted to or not!" she says.

Stephan, now 22, is in her first year at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois. She hopes to be ordained as an elder in The United Methodist Church and serve a local church.

"I'm very passionate about servant leadership and the impact that it has on the life of the church," she says. "With that, I hope to encourage and support the laity in my church, as well as the staff, and create a leadership model that works to serve and empower others to be ministry leaders.

"I am also very passionate about youth and young adult ministry. I received my call at an early age and know the importance the church has in helping shape and form a young person's vocation."

Stephan was one of the Indiana Annual Conference's youngest lay members (2007-14). She also served on the conference's young adult committee, where she says she was "most proud" of the work they did in planning the Lion and Lamb Festival. This festival brought young adults together for worship, discussion and live music.

After receiving a bachelor's degree in religion from Butler University in Indianapolis, Stephan received a leadership scholarship from Garrett-Evangelical and a Special Seminary Scholarship from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. She also received a Dollars for Scholars award through the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation (UMHEF). That program involves matching support from a student's church, UMHEF, participating United Methodist-related schools and 16 participating conference foundations.

When you support United Methodist Student Day, you make it possible for students like Brittany Stephan to afford to attend a school of their choice. You equip them to lead our church into the future.

Heather Travis is a freelance journalist living in Glasgow, Kentucky.