May 2, 2013


Since 2012, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has collected debt-related data through the Seminary Indebtedness Task Force to better understand the obstacles facing certified candidates for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. The Seminary Indebtedness Task Force was charged by the General Conference 2012 with creating a denominational plan to reduce and eliminate seminarian debt (Petition 20868).

Petition 20868

The Church Systems Task Force recommends that the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry convene a task force to address financial assistance and seminary indebtedness for seminary students by:

  • addressing both Resolution 218 (Financial Help for Seminary Students) and Resolution 233 (Seminary Student Indebtedness) from General Conference 2004;
  • developing a denominational plan to reduce or eliminate seminary debt for certified candidates intending to enter ordained ministry;
  • including persons with diverse backgrounds and expertise to develop funding sources;
    preparing a report and recommendations for presentation to the Connectional Table and
  • Council of Bishops no later than 2015; and
  • submitting the report to General Conference 2016.

The Denominational Plan

The task force created the following plan to promote awareness, assistance, maintenance and prevention to the burden of educational debt among United Methodist clergy.

  1. RESEARCH: Understanding the current educational debt reality for United Methodist candidates for ministry, provisional members, elders and deacons through GBHEM research.
  2. COLLABORATION: Engaging denominational constituents in conversations who are directly involved in the ecology of call for a pastor.
  3. INTERVENTION: Identifying assistance opportunities for clergy in need of current debt relief.
  4. PREVENTION: Identifying proactive assistance to prevent future unmanageable debt burdens for clergy.

Read the task force’s full report to General Conference 2016.

Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship

The Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) today announced the creation of a new scholarship that launches January 3, 2017, for students enrolled in United Methodist seminaries. The Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship was created to help entering United Methodist clergy avoid excessive educational loan debt, minimize financial stress and build financial acumen.

Wespath Benefits and Investments (formerly the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits), GBHEM and the National Association of United Methodist Foundations collaborated on a proposal and were awarded a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The proposal included implementing half of the grant as a “loan avoidance” scholarship for United Methodist seminarians pursuing elder or deacon ordination.

Read more about the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship and learn how to apply.