Annual Conference 2009, United Theological Seminary in Dayton Ohio made a generous gesture. United offered to match the $220 per credit hour Ministerial Education Fund (MEF) Scholarship that the Kentucky Annual Conference provides to certified candidates who are in University Senate approved seminaries. This generous offer brought the total that certified candidates receive who attend United Seminary to $440 per credit hour. This brought the cost of seminary education down dramatically. This is great news to those attending seminaries as often much debt has been incurred and has posed a problem for those newly appointed clergy in their first appointments as they attempted to repay student debt. In fact for some it made the historic question “are you in debt so as to embarrass?” a point of conversation time and time again. President Edwards’ and United Seminary’s generosity was a great moment of celebration for the 2009 annual conference session.
Continuing the good news for certified candidates in the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, we would like to announce a newly formed partnership with Asbury Seminary located in Wilmore, KY. Beginning with the fall 2010 semester Asbury Seminary will provide scholarships that bridge the gap between the funds provided to seminary students by the Ministerial Education Fund (MEF) and the cost of full tuition. Once again the KAC pays $220 per credit hour for those who have been certified as candidates by their district committees of ordained ministry. Asbury will accept those funds and then will scholarship the rest to provide full tuition for KAC students.
For almost forty years the Ministerial Education Fund has provided funds to help meet the tuition needs of men and women who feel the call to ministry. The Ministerial Education Fund is the church’s affirmation that we continue to share the responsibility for education of our clergy. It is one of the seven apportioned funds that enable United Methodists to do together what no church, district, or annual conference could do alone. Through the MEF and other funds, each individual, each family, each congregation gives a fair share for the church's work. Every church in our Annual Conference contributes to the Ministerial Education Fund through Our Mission Together giving. The MEF also pays for full and part-time local pastors to attend Course of Study school. It pays for our License to Preach school and also supplements continuing education in the annual conference.
The average cost of a Seminary education - tuition only – is approximately $15,000 - $18,000 per year. Thanks to United and Asbury Seminaries, in a new partnership with the churches of our annual conference through MEF funds, certified ministerial candidates will be able to graduate from seminary facing a significantly reduced amount of tuition debt.