Special Sunday offerings support local student scholarships

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.
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JD Tatarian can be found leading worship on Mondays and Thursdays at Oklahoma City University. He can be found at various church camps throughout the summer giving of his talent to bring young people closer to God. He almost always has a guitar in his hand and a song on his lips.

Tatarian, a junior studying music and business entrepreneurship, is one of 21 students in Oklahoma who benefitted from scholarships given by the United Methodist Church. He received the Dr. Karen Layman Gift of Hope scholarship and a further allocation for being a United Methodist.

“Earning a higher education degree is very expensive, and every scholarship helps tremendously in being able to attend my dream university and study that which I am most passionate about,” Tatarian said.

While he hopes to continue his service to the church as a worship pastor and children’s music educator, he also has big dreams.

“My biggest dream has always been to become a Christian music artist,” Tatarian said. “One day, I hope to record, produce, and publish my original worship songs in order to do my part in sharing Christ’s ultimate gospel of love with the world.”

He is also making an impact through his leadership in connecting various styles of worship on campus as chapel intern, according to Rev. Elizabeth Horton-Ware, director of religious life at OCU.

“He is such a gift to our Wesley Center campus ministry,” Horton-Ware said. “This is a new role for our campus community, and has helped bridge modern and traditional styles of worship.”

According to Allyson Potts, executive director of loans and scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, $5 million in financial assistance was distributed to more than 2,100 students for 2021.

Potts encourages congregations to support special Sunday offerings which fund a portion of the scholarships, including United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday and Native American Sunday. The remaining funds for these awards come from gifts, annuities and endowments GBHEM has invested and administered for decades.

In 2021, 54 Oklahoma congregations contributed nearly $28,000 in special offerings for those three days. Oklahoma students were awarded $27,500 in scholarships and grants; OCU students received a fourth of the total.

“That’s nearly dollar for dollar. You can see the power of connectional giving,” said Rev. Derrek Belase, executive director of Connectional Ministry for the conference. “Imagine what would happen if we could do more.”

Gifts for student scholarships do not go unnoticed.

“Knowing that I have financial support from my church is so encouraging and hope-giving,” Tatarian said. “I am so fortunate. It is incredibly comforting to know that I always have a home in the church, and that my church community will unceasingly show me their love, care, and support no matter where life takes me.”

Belase encourages churches to find creative ways to take the offerings and utilize the denominational resources for the offerings, which can be found here.

Students who are members of The United Methodist Church may apply for a Fall 2022 GBHEM scholarship online until March 24.

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry website

The United Methodist Church has designated six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings. These special Sunday offerings provide scholarships, administrative costs in times of disaster, benefit peace with justice ministries annual conferences, equip seminary students who will honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries, benefit neighborhood ministries, community advocacy and work with at-risk teens.

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