United Women in Faith’s own general secretary and CEO received a scholarship from United Methodist Women while attending Perkins School of Theology.
Your support of the World Service Fund apportionment supports program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.
Sally Vonner began seminary in 2004, and though she was answering a call from God (who spoke through many friends), it wasn’t easy. In addition to her studies, Vonner had recently lost her mother and her mother-in-law. She also had two children at home, a significant commute to school, a full-time job, and a hefty tuition.
“So, it was challenging,” Vonner said.
Vonner was two years into seminary school when she came across a reference to United Methodist Women scholarships in response magazine.
“I was part of United Methodist Women at the time, but I had no knowledge of what the national level offered in terms of education and support, or I would have applied in my first year,” Vonner recalled.
It wasn’t a full ride, she said, “but it helped. It covered part of my tuition. It helped offset out-of-pocket expenses for books, transportation, and other costs while I was in seminary. So, that was very helpful.”
Little did she know that 15 years after graduating from seminary she would be leading the very organization that helped her succeed.
“I never dreamed I would be where I am, but United Women in Faith, then United Methodist Women, affirmed that there was a giftedness in me that needed to be shared with the world, and so they invested in that scholarship so I could do that,” Vonner said.
And it mattered not that Vonner did not choose a path of ordained ministry, or even that she was a member of what would become United Women in Faith.
“Whether I went on to become clergy or not, they didn’t put any kind of stipulation on that, or even on whether I had any devotion to the organization,” she said. “There were no strings attached. It was seeing and believing in whatever I shared in my paperwork, United Methodist Women believing that I would be an extension of them in the world making a difference.”
That’s why United Women in Faith Scholarships are still important today, Vonner added.
“These scholarships are an investment in lives that are an extension of us in the world,” she said. “We truly believe that love in action can change the world, but we and our members can’t do that by ourselves. So, it’s how we invest in others to become leaders, to become activists, to become voices, to become musicians, to become artists, to change the world.
“I see it solely as an investment in the lives that will go and make a difference in their communities, regardless of whether we ever hear back from them or learn their stories,” Vonner said.
During a recent visit to Texas, a young leader in The United Methodist Church thanked Vonner for the United Women in Faith scholarship that helped him to study at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
“And I reminded him that we do that because he is an extension of us. He is now leading in the conference. He’s doing these great things to build up congregations. That’s us, in him,” she said.
excerpt from a story by Audrey Stanton-Smith, United Women in Faith website
The World Service Fund provides basic financial support to program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Through World Service funding, agencies support annual conferences and local congregations in living out God’s mission for the worldwide Church. General agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.