Mennonite Church Canada is renewing its call for applicants to the Company of 1000 Study Reserve fund and also for people to become regular donors to the fund.
The Company of 1000 fund provides forgivable loans to students planning to join ministry after they graduate from a post-secondary school. It also provides grants that cover 50 percent of tuition for current pastors or ministers taking post-secondary courses while they work.
Over the years, six to 12 applicants normally applied to the fund per year, but that number is now significantly lower. MC Canada’s Church Leadership Ministers administer the fund and want to see that number increase.
“We have made the eligibility criteria more flexible and adaptable for congregational leaders who wish to continue their studies from home, while at the same time fulfilling their ministry responsibilities,” says Rick Neufeld, church engagement minister for MC Manitoba.
Hyejung Jessie Yum is a doctoral candidate in theological studies at Emmanuel College at the Toronto School of Theology. She is a recipient of a Company of 1000 forgivable loan.
“The direct financial support for me encourages me to do innovative and courageous forms of Mennonite theology and ministry,” she says.
Yum’s dissertation is on postcolonial Mennonite peace theology in a multicultural context. She is also a licensed minister of MC Eastern Canada and has launched Sowing for Peace, a peace-based ministry in Toronto. She says sources of income and scholarships for international students are limited.
“Company of 1000 has been a helpful financial resource for the last four years to sustain my life as an international student and a self-supporting minister,” she says.
Kevin Koop is the pastor of Carrot River (Sask.) Mennonite Church. He is working towards his masters of Christian ministry degree from Canadian Mennonite University’s Graduate School of Theology and Ministry.
So far, he has taken courses on pastoral care and wisdom literature in the Old Testament, and is looking forward to a class on New Testament letters in first-century and Middle Eastern perspectives in the spring.
“I don’t know that I would be able to prioritize graduate-level seminary education if it weren’t for this fund,” says Koop, who also receives support from his own church for his degree.
He says his learning in the classroom has already impacted his ministry. “While I was taking the pastoral care course, I was visiting a parishioner involved in a unique medical crisis. Having limited experience with the particular care dynamics involved, I asked my class for help. I followed their advice the following day when I met with this individual in the hospital.”
Forty-nine people donate annually to the Company of 1000 fund. MC Canada is also inviting people to join this community of support for current and future pastors.
“One of the most critical tasks in the life of the church is to recognize how God has gifted people and call them to use their gifts in leadership,” says Doug Klassen, MC Canada’s executive minister. “The Company of 1000 initiative has done this for decades and, with the continued support of donors, will do so for years to come.”
To apply or donate to the Company of 1000 Study Reserve Fund, visit mennonitechurch.ca/company-of-1000.