In the midst of finals at Duke Divinity School, Taylor Hines took a moment to talk about his United Methodist scholarships.
In Germany where she is serving as a social justice missionary, Libby Birhan Dishman took a moment to talk about her United Methodist scholarships.
On Sunday, Nov. 27, churches will participate in an annual special offering that supports a commitment that is part of The United Methodist Church DNA: Education. Our Wesleyan roots were formed around the importance of education and its role in spiritual formation.
Always set for the Sunday after Thanksgiving, United Methodist Student Day supports that commitment. The funds received from the offering go into the United Methodist Student Loan Fund to underwrite scholarships for United Methodist students.
In 2022, United Methodist Student Day helped support the undergraduate and graduate education of more than 20 students. Hines and Dishman are among them. Other supporters, such as the Holston Foundation, have also made a difference in helping to educate students from the more than 800 churches of Holston Conference.
“I am sitting in class because someone has donated and provided funding for me to be here,” Hines said. His home church is First United Methodist in Jonesville, Virginia.
While working on his undergraduate degree at Emory & Henry College, he discerned a call to ministry. His church at the time, Emory United Methodist, sponsored his candidacy. He cites the Rev. Robert Countiss, the Rev. Sharon Wright, and the Rev. David Jackson as being “very influential” during this time.
“I’ve always said I’m Holston born and Holston bred,” Hine says. “So many people have poured into me, and I feel called back to the mountains of Holston.”
Several United Methodist scholarships have supported him along the way as he works through his second year at Duke with a projected graduation date of spring 2024. He is on the track to serve as an elder in pastoral ministry.
“It couldn’t happen without people providing funding – because someone generously thought it right – to keep educating students for the betterment of the church as a witness in the world,” he said.
Dishman’s home church is Dunlap United Methodist in Dunlap, Tennessee.
“I’m originally from Ethiopia,” she said. “I got adopted to the U.S. in 2010 at the age of 10. My wonderful adoptive family were members of Dunlap United Methodist Church, so I was raised in church as well. My church community has watched me grow up and has been a big blessing to my life.”
Dishman graduated this spring from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and minor in secondary education. She says she received United Methodist scholarships for all four years, including the Ethnic Scholarship.
“The scholarships really supported me in continuing my higher education with less financial concerns,” she said. “It benefited me in my housing and book costs -- a true blessing that allowed me not to be in a huge debt of completing my education.”
Today, Dishman is serving as a United Methodist “Global Mission Fellow,” where she is “called to connect the church in mission, engage with the community and grow in personal and social holiness” for two years.
She has been assigned to work in an after-school program called “Basement26” in Frankfurt, Germany, where she prepares meals, organizes activities, and tutors people ages 2 to 20. Most of the youth and adolescents are refugees from Afghanistan living in temporary housing.
“I am now 22, serving in God’s mission far away and [my church] is still at my side helping me financially, spiritually, and emotionally,” she said. “I’m so grateful to have a church community that truly cares and supports me.”
Give to United Methodist Student Day online. Or, write a check to your local church with “United Methodist Student Day” on the memo line.
Find out more.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.