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International Giving for Theological Education Already Exceeding Expectations

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead

February 6, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – A recent pledge of $100,000 from Connexio, the Network for Mission and Service of The United Methodist Church in Switzerland and France, added to the growing number of gifts that the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences has received from around the world.

Inspired by the Stead Challenge, Connexio organized a reception and used an initial contribution from a generous donor as the starting point for establishing a Stead Challenge Giving Circle. Additional donors will contribute to the "Connexio UMC Switzerland-France Giving Circle" to meet the minimum threshold of $100,000 required for a Stead Challenge match.

The Stead Challenge is 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.

Giving circles are being encouraged to enable groups of donors to extend their impact by qualifying for the Stead Challenge. Numerous congregations, districts, conferences and other groups around the world are currently considering forming a Stead Challenge Giving Circle as a means to increase the impact of their generosity.

Other pledges from outside the United States include gifts from individuals in Liberia, the Philippines and Switzerland. The combined total from international donors is $330,000, nearly 15% of the total Endowment Fund financial commitments to date of $2,600,000. Bishop Streiff of Central and Southern Europe Episcopal Area and Endowment Fund Board Chairperson expressed his excitement about the international support received to date by saying, "I am thrilled, humbled and grateful for the tremendous support we already are receiving from generous donors within the central conferences. I'm proud that funds for this effort are coming from all regions of our global connection."

Support has also been strong from the United States, including gifts from individuals, churches, conferences, foundations, agencies and commissions in fifteen different states.

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.

If you are interested in learning more and setting up a Stead Challenge Giving Circle, please contact Kim Nemire at [email protected].


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:  


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Crystal Caviness
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