Thomas C. Batson's United Methodist heritage goes back four generations to his great-grandfather, Fred Trotter, who emigrated from Ireland to California and became a Methodist minister. "His sons – Mark, Irwin and Tom Trotter – became pivotal leaders in … the church in the latter half of the 20th century," noted Thomas, whose dad, Gregory Batson, is a United Methodist pastor.
Now a student at Boston University, Thomas grew up in California. Much of his family life, he noted, was "centered under the roof of the sanctuary, in the classrooms of Bible studies and in the fellowship of United Methodists."
As his dad's pastoral appointments changed, Thomas said, he "held onto sports, music and education as mainstays throughout each itinerant journey to a new city and church." One of his passions, music, was nurtured through piano lessons, beginning at age 6. As a teenager at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Orange County, Thomas participated in the Sierra Service Project and the camping ministry at Lazy W. Ranch. "The years in Orange County," he continued, "allowed me an incredible opportunity to create a sense of identity, both religious and personal."
The young man credits his United Methodist upbringing with instilling an attitude of acceptance and open-mindedness. "Throughout my life," he added, "I have attempted to seek opportunities that allow me to connect with others and learn of their personal philosophies, faith traditions and faith journeys. In doing so, I have found that music and religion are two areas in which the innermost self can be share most openly and … unconditionally."
Receiving a Gift of Hope Scholarship, supported by gifts to the annual United Methodist Student Day offering, "had an enormous impact on lifting the financial strain of a university education," Thomas said. "More importantly, however, it showed me how the church continues to foster the development and education of young scholars, uniting us through faith and the hope for a better future."
Boston University, Thomas said, provides "an impeccable landscape for academic achievement, community life and spiritual fulfillment." The highlight has been his internship at Marsh Chapel. "I get to work directly with one of the East Coast's most highly regarded choirs, while serving as a student leader through volunteerism and book studies," he explained.
At Marsh Chapel, he is a liturgist for the Sunday morning service. He serves as an assistant to Scott Allen Jarrett, the head of the Marsh Chapel Choir and Collegium, and co-leads the Marsh Organization for Volunteer Engagement (MOVE), which encourages students to volunteer for service projects. He is pursuing a double major in piano performance and English, while acting as chief of staff for the Boston University Student Government.
Acknowledging The United Methodist Church's critical role in effecting positive change, Thomas said he hopes "to make a difference in the world by exemplifying the love of God in my daily actions, vocational discernment and learning."
A goal, he added, "is to make the arts, specifically classical music, more accessible to all. In doing so, I hope that faith can help guide this mission as a part of my ministry to spread peace and love."
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, United Methodist Communications retiree
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.