Again, this year we will receive a Miracle Offering as an expression of our gratitude for God’s boundless blessings and to advance our mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The offering will be received during the 2019 Annual Conference or can be sent to the Dakotas Conference office.
The 2019 Miracle Offering: Lead Boldly #fillthegap provides an opportunity to come alongside and support persons answering God’s call to ministry in two ways.
First, we will be receiving a monetary offering that will be equally divided between the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences and a Dakotas United Methodist Foundation Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students planning to prepare for pastoral ministry and individuals training to be licensed local pastors in the Dakotas. There are significant gaps in financial assistance for pastors being trained in our Central Conferences (annual conferences outside the United States) and for those undergraduate and licensed local pastor students preparing for ministry in the Dakotas.
In the Central Conferences, which include seven areas of Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, obtaining a theological education can be challenging. Seminaries are too far away or too expensive. Our existing seminaries in the Central Conferences struggle to find and retain well-trained professors and to provide library resources in native languages. Courses of Study for initial and continuing education need to be developed, and scholarships are needed for initial and post-graduate studies. The $25,000,000 Endowment Fund is designed to close these gaps.
In the Dakotas Conference, we are blessed with significant scholarship resources for individuals enrolled in seminary. However, we do not have sufficient resources to assist individuals who are preparing to be licensed local pastors or undergraduates beginning their journey toward pastoral ministry. A scholarship fund, administered by the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation, will enable us to begin closing these gaps.
The second part of the 2019 Miracle Offering: Lead Boldly #fillthegap will be an opportunity to make a commitment to reach someone who does not know Jesus. Each clergy and lay member of conference will be blessed to offer to God the name of at least one acquaintance, who does not know Christ, for whom we are committed to “dare to reach” through our prayers and our witness of compassion, love and hope. Perhaps it will be a child, work colleague, neighbor, or the person who serves you coffee each day.
44% of the population in the Dakotas do not believe there is a God
12 Dakotas undergraduates considering seminary
15 Dakotas candidates for local licensed pastor
$30,000 average debt for undergraduates
$20,000 average costs of course of study for licensed pastors