Mississippi College student Taylor Hathorn is a fifth-generation United Methodist with a passion for writing. An only child, she says she finds her greatest joy in the people around her.
"My family and my church family are the two single most important groups in my life, and they have brought so much gladness to my heart. I do not think that I have ever truly experienced loneliness because I have always been surrounded by 'so great a cloud of witnesses,' " she says.
"My mom and both of my grandmothers are strong, Christian women, and so are all of the women at my church. These women invested in me and showed me what it meant to serve like Martha while maintaining the worshipful heart of Mary."
Their example resonated with Hathorn. She is an active member of her home church, First United Methodist Church of Waynesboro, Mississippi, and attends First United Methodist Church in Clinton, where she goes to school. She is a member of United Methodist Women, the Council on Ministries, the Youth and College Sunday School class and the Wesley Foundation's "College Connection." She teachers vacation Bible school each summer and helps with her church's monthly meal program for homebound members.
Somehow, she also finds time to be a campus ambassador, work for the college newspaper and perform in school theater productions, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
"My maternal grandfather walked 7 miles (one-way) to school each day, but he had the drive and determination to go on to pharmacy school at Ole Miss. I like to think that same determination is hereditary," she says.
Hathorn, a United Methodist Gift of Hope scholarship recipient, is pursuing a degree in English education at Mississippi College, a Baptist-affiliated university. She says experiencing different religions on campus has strengthened her Methodist faith.
"I learned that being a United Methodist was a precious, precious gift — for we are the denomination that supports and believes in the call of ALL people. We are the denomination that makes newspaper headlines in fighting for social justice, and I don't have words to express what that means to me.
"Although I am one of the only United Methodists on campus, this past year has also made me more secure in my faith. I have been forced to dig in my heels on my Wesleyan theology, and say, as Martin Luther once did in the face of his antagonistic inquisitors, 'Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise.' "
Hathorn's goals for the future include attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, to obtain a master's in Christian education, followed by a doctoral degree. She wants to travel to all 50 states and abroad and read every one of John Wesley's published sermons. She also hopes one day to be able to donate to United Methodist Student Day.
"This scholarship was given to me by people who did not know me personally but believed in God's sanctifying grace in my life," she says. "By supporting United Methodist Student Day, all those who give are changing the lives of young Methodists around the world. … We are the ones who will continue to carry the message and the bright, beautiful hope of Methodism into the future."
Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Student Day calls the church to support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. The special offering provides scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants.
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