This post is from Lelia King, who works for the Fund for Theological Education in Atlanta.
According to the results of a recent American Religious Identification Survey, the percentage of Americans who define themselves as Christian has dropped from 86 percent in 1990 to 76 percent in 2008. The report also indicates that self-identification with many main denominations is gradually declining.
Young people exploring a call to ministry in the next several years will be facing tougher challenges than ever. For many, worries about the job market and money can easily overshadow a call to ministry. The good news? Help is available.
The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) has taken on this mission: to “advance excellence as we encourage caring, capable and courageous young adults from diverse backgrounds on their journey to become pastors and scholars—the next generation of leaders for the church.” In 2009, FTE awarded a Congregational Fellowship to Madison R. McClendon, an upcoming first-year seminary student at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His fellowship includes a $2,000 to $5,000 award to match, dollar for dollar, support from McClendon’s congregation for tuition and living expenses during his first year of seminary.
McClendon was the only student affiliated with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (and one of 24 Baptist students overall) to receive a fellowship from FTE last year. We hope many more CBF students will apply for fellowships in 2010. Faculty members, pastors, campus ministers and administrators, please take note: many FTE fellowships are available only through nomination. Know a bright student who needs a little help? Nominate him or her at http://www.formspring.com/forms/?683605-lRRXsRLBBi.
In the next year, FTE will provide $1.5 million in the form of several nationally competitive fellowships to support talented students who are preparing for pastoral ministry and doctoral students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups who plan to teach religion, theology or biblical studies. For more information on the types of fellowships available, please visit http://www.thefund.org/programs/.