NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Five students preparing for careers in theological education have received Dempster Graduate Fellowships from the United Methodist Church for the 2003-2004 academic year. The awards, $10,000 for single students and $11,000 for married students, are the largest offered by a Protestant denomination, according to the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville. The scholarships are given through the board's Division of Ordained Ministry.
The annual fellowships have helped graduate students move toward careers in theological education for the past four decades and represent the United Methodist Church's strong commitment to excellence in theological education, according to the Rev. Robert Kohler, a staff executive in the division.
The 49-year-old fellowships are named for John Dempster, a 19th-century Methodist preacher who helped establish three denominationally related seminaries.
Selection for the Dempster award is based on intellectual competence, academic achievement, promise of usefulness in teaching careers, personal qualities, and clarity of spiritual purpose and commitment.
The 2003-2004 recipients are: 7 Esther L. Chung, a candidate for ministry in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and Drew University. She is enrolled at Duke University in Durham, N.C., where she is focusing on the history of Christianity in the area of Reformation studies.
- Hannah Little Friday, a member of the North Alabama Annual Conference and graduate of Emory University and Agnes Scott College. She is enrolled at Emory University in Atlanta, where she is specializing in 19th century theological and religious thought and its influence on current theological trends.
- Brett Michael Opalinski, an elder in the Florida Annual Conference and graduate of Emory University and Samford University. He is enrolled at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, with a concentration on the New Testament and early Christian history.
- Christoph Norbert Raedle, a lay preacher in the Germany North Annual Conference and graduate of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He is specializing in historical, systematic and ecumenical theology at the United Methodist Seminary in Reutlingen, Germany.
- Susanna Weslie Southard, a member of the Kansas East Annual Conference and graduate of Perkins School of Theology and Washington University. She is attending Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, where she is specializing in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.
The Dempster fellowships are funded through the Ministerial Education Fund, which is supported by the apportionments paid by local churches across the denomination.
By Albert H. Lee