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Steads celebrate opportunity to invest in global project

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead

April 23, 2018

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Nearly $800,000 in pledges have been made toward the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences since a giving challenge was launched less than a year ago.

The Stead Challenge was initiated by Jerre and Mary Joy Stead to encourage generosity by matching on a 1:4 basis gifts to the Endowment Fund of $100,000 or more. For example, a gift of $100,000 will unlock $25,000 from the Stead Challenge.

"With grateful hearts, we have forwarded $200,000 in recognition of the pledges that have been made so far. We look forward to additional milestones being met and invite all United Methodists to join us in this vital mission to provide theological education to those called to ministry across the globe," said the Steads as they made their first payment on a $1,000,000 total investment. Once complete, the Stead Challenge will result in a minimum of $5,000,000 for this critical ministry.

"The Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences offers a rare opportunity to invest in a program that is both global and sustainable," said Bishop Patrick Streiff of the Central and Southern Europe Episcopal area, chair of the Endowment Fund Board. "It is global in mission, in programmatic partnerships and in financial support. It is sustainable because, unlike many programs that require on-going fundraising, it will be funded in perpetuity through endowment earnings."

The uniqueness of the program is one reason why the Steads were inspired to invest in it. "We are impressed not only by the scope of its mission, but also by the financial support that the Endowment Fund has successfully inspired from around the world," said Jerre Stead. "The Endowment Fund offers a rare opportunity to invest in a program that is truly global, and by doing so strengthen our vision as a global church."

The Stead Challenge has not only inspired new and increased pledges to the Endowment Fund, but also has inspired participation in creative ways. A tool being used to achieve the $100,000 minimum is giving circles. Many 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.

Jerre and Mary Joy have been particularly impressed by the level of participation from outside the United States, including more than $330,000 pledged from supporters in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. In addition to gifts from individuals, one giving circle from Europe already has been pledged, and additional giving circles are under development in Africa and the Philippines.

Offering gratitude on behalf of the board, Bishop Streiff said, "The investment in our future Church leaders by Jerre and Mary Joy Stead has been truly transformative. Their confidence in our mission, coupled with the Stead Challenge, has inspired additional generosity across our connection."

The Endowment Fund is The United Methodist Church's effort to increase and strengthen opportunities for theological education for church leaders in regions outside the United States. One of the priorities for the Endowment Fund is using technology to provide e-learning opportunities to students and to better connect United Methodist schools and faculty. This is already being done successfully in Europe through the Methodist e-Academy.

The Endowment Fund hopes to establish similar networks and programs, under the umbrella of "New Avenues in Theological Education," in Africa and the Philippines. The other key program areas of the Endowment Fund will focus on providing scholarships, supporting human capacity through faculty development and expanding access to resource materials in a variety of languages. A minimum of $25,000,000, and support from all United Methodists, is needed in order for the Endowment Fund to accomplish its goals.


About the Stead Family –Jerre Stead is retired chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of IHS Markit, a global information company offering expertise in the areas of energy, economics, geopolitical risk, sustainability and supply-chain management. He has served as a trustee at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary since 1991 and currently serves as chair of the board of trustees. Jerre and Mary Joy have a history of supporting theological education, including endowed gifts for the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Center for Ethics and Values and the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Chair of Christian Social Ethics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The Endowment Fund is grateful to be counted as a partner to the Steads as they do great work in the world.

About Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences –The Endowment Fund was created by the Council of Bishops to bring long-term, sustainable support for theological education. 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. To learn more, visit our website at

Crystal Caviness
United Methodist Communications
[email protected]

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