Pass the Torch Scholarship Impacts Next Generation of Clergy

May 6, 2022

With aspirations of serving every seminary student in the Great Plains Conference, the Pass the Torch committee stepped closer to their goal through the growth of the scholarship fund.

Since its founding, the Pass the Torch Scholarship has provided more than $100,000 to help seminary students answer their call. Through generous gifts and memorial funds, in 2021 alone the scholarship endowment fund grew by over $14,000.

“It’s an effort on the part of retired clergy and surviving spouses to address the needs of people wanting to answer God’s call to ministry in the church, but for whom the cost of that was prohibitive,” Pass the Torch Committee Chair Rev. Gary Beach

Started in the 1990s by retired pastors and surviving spouses of the Kansas West Conference, the Pass the Torch Scholarship has since expanded to serve the Great Plains Conference and provide financial support to the next generation of clergy.

“When obeying God’s call and making plans to attend seminary, I had to have faith that God would provide,” scholarship recipient Brenda Hogan said. “The cost of seminary is daunting. While still ‘dreaming’ of going to seminary, I learned about the Pass the Torch scholarship from my pastor at the time, Mark Conard. I filed it away as future help with school expenses. It was an early step in believing in the possibility of this new chapter in life. I was blessed to receive scholarship funds that have been a great help to me in furthering my

For the students receiving the scholarship, it not only helps provide financially, but also provides encouragement in the seminary journey.

“While the Pass the Torch scholarship only covers a small percentage of the annual cost of seminary, the impact is far greater,” Victor Peterson, a scholarship recipient said. “It warms my heart to know that former pastors and spouses are willing to invest in the future of the church and specifically help fund young pastors, like me, in training. Most retiring pastors are not wealthy, and there are numerous causes I’m sure they feel called to help fund. So their generosity toward me and my call both affirms my call and makes me feel valued and appreciated. Being in seminary and ministry simultaneously can be challenging and exhausting at times, but their gifts encourage me to continue pushing through.”

Brenda and Victor are just two of many scholarship recipients impacted by the generosity of past and current retired clergy and spouses.

As seminary costs continue to rise, the committee is hopeful it will be able to provide a greater impact through increasing the number of scholarships awarded and the dollar amount.

“The cost of seminary is far in excess of what we retired clergy would ever have had to pay for a seminary experience,” Gary said. “The retired clergy want to continue to beef up what we are able to do.”

The Kansas Methodist Foundation is honored to partner with the Pass the Torch committee to support the next generation of clergy through investing the scholarship endowment funds and helping administer the
scholarship program. If you are interested in joining the retired clergy in their efforts, please contact the Kansas Methodist Foundation.

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