University Baptist Church has always sought ways to connect on a deeper level with LSU students and faculty. One of the more creative ways is through the Wager Scholarship Program.
The idea of a partnered relationship between a music student and the UBC choir and congregation was planted over ten years ago when an active UBC choir member heard about the program from another minister of music in a university church. The idea was multifaceted. UBC wanted to give the students the opportunity to share their music talents with our choir (as UBC gave them sacred music exposure) and also the opportunity to experience love, encouragement, and acceptance from our inclusive congregation while offering them financial assistance.
UBC began with one student and soon added two. We currently have eight choir scholarship students. Some participants have gone on to work post-graduation in part- or full-time church positions.
While we recognize students may be initially attracted to the scholarship's financial component, our desire is that each recipient begins to realize this program affords much more.
UBC’s goal is to go beyond their expectations, not only in providing them a nurturing space to develop their musical skills, but also by exposing them to a unique expression of Christianity.
As we embark on a new school year, we are seeking new ways to better care for and nurture our scholarship students. This will include:
· Cultivate a care network whereby these young adults connect with small groups within the church. For example, a spiritual formation group would provide monthly care packages, like-interest activity groups for the students to foster a sense of community, opportunities to connect with our collegiate ministry for a safe space to wrestle with difficult questions, and church-wide gatherings to experience intergenerational friendships.
· Establish a weekly or bi-weekly routine of a family or small group sharing a meal with a student to provide a context for fostering authentic relationships, healthy conversations, and emotional and spiritual support and encouragement.
· Provide pastoral staff care to these young adults to help them discover their God-given talents and explore ways to creatively utilize those within the broader church community. Examples include multi-media production, social media networking, and shared musical giftedness with our other existing church ministries.
Earlier this month, a grant writing team of Martha Strohschein, Gayle Wager, Mildred Ann Henry, and Justin Langford spent 6-months of diligent work to send to the Forum for Theological Exploration applications for two grants to raise our capacity to care for scholarship students.
In addition to grant application and other initiatives, we are inviting members of the congregation and Spiritual Formation classes to consider sponsoring a student for the academic year. Your gifts will make it possible for us not only nurture to these students, but also add a unique facet to the worship experience of UBC.
For more information about to help with this program, please contact Justin Langford, Interim Minister of Worship, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your partnership in the Wager Scholarship Program, both past, present and future.