A dreamer, a leader, a believer, and a seminarian…these are the words that the Rev. Dee Finch used to introduce James L. Cogman, this year's Black College Fund speaker at the 2017 UNY Annual Conference session. Currently a Certified Lay Servant in the Baltimore Washington Conference, James is pursuing his Masters of Divinity at Yale University.
James' enthusiasm lit up the room as he began his speech by singing This Little Light of Mine. He said that he started his speech with that song as a reminder of the light inside every individual; he said, "We all have a light that needs to shine and that our light has an impact everywhere we go."
James is a representative of the Black College Fund, a fund approved by the General Conference of 1972 that represents 11 historically black colleges and universities and one medical school affiliated with the United Methodist Church. James attended Claflin University, a historically black college that was started by two United Methodist missionaries in 1869.
James commented, "Attending a historically black college funded by the United Methodist Church allows me to view life from different perspectives because of the inviting atmosphere…it's the only university you will go to where the president knows you by name."
James informed the crowd that their support of the Black College Fund allowed himself and the other 15,999 students attending these universities the opportunity to be successful. He thanked the UNY Conference for giving 100 percent of its apportionments to the Black College Fund this year.
James described success with an interesting analogy; he said, "The road to success is not straight; there is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution lights called family, and flats called jobs. But if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, insurance called faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called success!"
James urged the UNY Conference to continue prioritizing the Black College Fund. He said, "Success isn't easy, but it is certainly attainable. Just plant the seed, watch God do the rest, and continue to let your light shine so bright!"
Shannon Hodson, Upper New York AC website
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.