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VOL. 127 | NO. 43 | Friday, March 02, 2012

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Church Giving Supports HBCU

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

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Part one of a two-part series The power of your church giving may be stronger than you know. For example, did you know that when you give to the United Methodist Church you are supporting 11 historically black colleges or universities (HBCU) in addition to supporting your congregation? That’s right. You are part of a long tradition now managed by the church’s Black College Fund under the leadership of Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson.

As you may be aware, HBCU have been transforming the lives of individuals, communities and our country since before the Civil War. Eleven of these 105 institutions are private-church related colleges founded by the United Methodist Church. In order to learn more about the relationship between these colleges and the church, we talked with Dr. Hopson and share our conversation with you.

We asked Hopson, executive director of the Black College Fund of the United Methodist Church, why the church established these colleges and why has it continued to support them. She shared with us that the UMC has always had a passion, tradition and belief in the power of knowledge.

“As the Civil War ended, it was painfully clear that the education that had long been denied to slaves would severely hamper their self sufficiency if not addressed,” she said. “The people called Methodists (through the Freedmen’s Aid Society, founded during the 1860s) saw an urgent need and addressed it. This ministry to the educationally underserved remains, and we see it as essential to empowerment and self determination.”

According to a history of the Black College Fund, written by Dillard University President Emeritus Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, “Without question, the UMC has no peer or competitor, either quantitatively or qualitatively, in terms of church support for its HBCU. No other mainline communion approaches the United Methodist level of generous and sustained financial support.”

The UMC provides funding, conferences and technical support to its member colleges. Most of the support is unrestricted and goes directly to the institutions to help keep their tuition and fees low, to enhance the infrastructure, to create new programming – whatever it takes to stay competitive.

Hopson sees HBCU as uniquely suited – historically and otherwise – to nurture, challenge and mentor their graduates to be instruments of change whether they’re running a school board, multi-national corporation or a university.

“These institutions attract the best and brightest in addition to those who have the potential to be great,” she said. “They inspire them to ‘find a way or make one’ as the Clark Atlanta University motto says. The small class sizes and low teacher/student ratios allow the faculty, staff and administration an opportunity to provide personalized attention and a family-like environment. Students can’t help but flourish and soar.”

These church-affiliated institutions also play an important role in the life of the church.

“We get some of our most effective, committed, talented and innovative leaders from these institutions,” Hopson said.

To learn more about the UMC Black College Fund visit www.gbhem.org/bcf or call (615) 340-7378.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help nonprofit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of “How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors.” Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.

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