FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bishop Patrick Streiff of Central and Southern Europe, along with Board and Committee members of the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences, announced several new commitments to the Endowment Fund for a total to date of more than $2,600,000.
These funds have been committed for The United Methodist Church's efforts to increase and strengthen opportunities for theological education for church leaders in regions outside the United States. These regions are referred to by the denomination as central conferences.
In the central conferences, which include seven areas of Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, obtaining a theological education can be challenging. Seminaries are too far away or too expensive, seminaries struggle to find well-trained professors and to provide library resources in essential languages, courses of study for initial and continuing education need to be developed, and scholarships are needed for initial and post-graduate studies. Established by the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church in 2014, the Endowment Fund will provide sustainable, long-term support for theological education.
The $2,600,000 total includes new gifts to the Endowment Fund that were announced and celebrated at a joint meeting of the Board and Campaign Committee on November 29, 2017. Recent major gifts have been received from Dave Johnston of the Western North Carolina Conference, Christopher Neyor of the Liberia Conference, a donor from Switzerland, and an increased pledge from another donor. The overall total includes gifts, pledges and grants from individuals, churches, foundations, Wespath's Grace Fund, and the United Methodist Publishing House, as well as support from the Commission on Central Conference Theological Education.
Most of these new gifts qualify for the Stead Challenge, an investment from Jerre and Mary Joy Stead which encourages generosity by matching on a 1:4 basis gifts that are received. For example, a gift of $100,000 will unlock $25,000 from the Stead Challenge. Once complete, the Stead Challenge will result in a minimum of $5,000,000 for this critical ministry.
Board and Campaign Committee members expressed enthusiasm for the new gifts and overall progress of the campaign. Dave Johnston, a lay member of the Campaign Committee, is optimistic about the campaign to raise a total of $25,000,000. An accountant by trade, Dave looks at how the goal can be broken down into manageable pieces. Dave has said, "The accountant in me sees this goal as very approachable. If 1,000 people gave $5,000 a year for 5 years, the goal would be met. I know there are many more than 1,000 United Methodists who can give at that level."
In an effort to enable gifts at all levels to benefit from the Stead Challenge, Board members endorsed the development of giving circles to allow groups of people to pool funds together to reach the $100,000 minimum for the Challenge. Already, churches, districts and conferencs are considering this approach in order to amplify their impact. Confirming giving circles and working more deeply on the ground in annual conferences are top priorities for the Endowment Fund heading into 2018.
About Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences –Endow F-TECC was created by the Council of Bishops to bring long-term, sustainable support for theological education. Endow F-TECC works in partnership with the Commission on Central Conference Theological Education, which will determine how funds are allocated and provide oversight of how funds are being used once the endowment goal has been met. To learn more, visit our website: www.endowftecc.org.