Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.
Two recent stories published by the UMC Giving website made me think about the relationship between education and internationalism in The United Methodist Church. The first story shared reflections by three students at United Methodist-affiliated Africa University. Each student was describing the positive aspects of their experiences at the school. All three of them mentioned the international makeup of the student body, with students coming from all over the African continent. The chance to interact with other Africans from other countries had been a meaningful and educational experience for these students.
The second story described study-abroad experiences by students at the eleven historical black colleges and universities (HBCU) that are supported by the UMC's Black College Fund. The article also made mention of international students studying at these HBCUs. Both students and administrators in the article commented on what a meaningful learning experience study abroad was and how it broadened students' horizons.
The ability to function as a global denomination is predicated on cross-cultural understanding. These articles show that one of the ways in which the UMC promotes such cross-cultural understanding, both for its own benefit at the benefit of the world at large, is by supporting institutions of higher education. These colleges and universities are often where United Methodists (and others) first form real relationships with people from other countries, relationships that lead to great understanding, acceptance, and potential collaboration for the kingdom of God. These colleges and universities thus deserve support in prayers and financial giving from those who are committed to the UMC as a global denomination. More information on supporting these connectional ministries can be found in the links above.