Meet Scholarship Recipient Phillip Clay

Phillip Clay is a musician at heart.  Most days you can find him singing or playing an instrument whenever he gets a chance.  Having majored in Music with a focus in Organ Performance as an undergraduate, Phillip says, “It is more than just a hobby, it is a tool given by God.”  Phillip’s musical talent is a tool that he uses in many ways, and will continue to use throughout his life.  However, Phillip’s path took an unexpected turn. “I was sure I’d use my musical gift as my main compass in life, using it in some type of performing or through a music ministry.  However, that changed when I was “snagged” to fill pulpits at a three point charge,” says Phillip.

Phillip, son of a pastor, considers Grace United Methodist Church in Hastings as his “home” church, although he was raised over nearly the entirety of the state, “I consider Grace UMC, in a way, as the spring board for my ministry, one where I found and made my own name.”  Currently serving as a Student Local Pastor in Wolf City, Texas, and attending Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, Phillip is well on his way to paving his own path.  While Phillip has plenty to keep him busy, he also serves on the Executive Board for the local Food Pantry.  As with many seminary students, the stress of a busy schedule and growing school financial debt wears on him.  “The stress of seminary is immense, even crippling at times. The stress of finances is not pretty, either, so adding one on top of the other is one of the farthest-from-ideal situations I can think of.”  Phillip continues, “It is difficult to lose sleep over where the next semester’s finances will come from when it’s the deepest and most stressful part of the semester, academically.  A student should be able to come out of seminary well enough physically and mentally to take on a church or a charge, and financial worry can be so damaging.”  

Phillip is thankful for the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation scholarship program. As a scholarship recipient for the 2016-2017 academic year, Phillip was able to find some financial relief.  Phillip, as with many other past recipients, believes that there is much more to a dollar when it comes to scholarship awards.  Not only does it ease the financial burden, but it gifts our seminary students with a peace of mind.  We often hear “God will provide” and thankfully, we have seminary students who have a strong faith that He will.

The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry estimates the combined average debt from undergraduate and seminary studies is $50,000.  The Foundation is thankful for those who are helping our seminary students take on this incredible and overwhelming reality.  “We need to continue to do our part to support our seminary students and the future of our church, in whatever way we can.  And the Foundation’s scholarship program is one great way to do that,” says Foundation Executive Director, Anita Crisp.  The Foundation offers many opportunities to open a scholarship fund.  Scholarship funds at the Foundation have ranged from initial deposits of $1,000 to $100,000 or more.  The funds are sometimes started in honor of a family member, clergy, or friend and named as such, or sometimes the scholarship begins as an estate gift from someone who wished to have an impact on a student’s life but was not able to make a gift during his or her lifetime.

Phillip is eternally grateful for the support of these scholarships, “What keeps me going is the knowledge that I am loved not only by God, which is the most important, but also by fellow Christians who care about me – not only as friends, but as a fellow child of God – and want me to do well in all that I can. It is just as much about each, individual prayer that backs every dollar that the student feels and can witness turn into fruition as the semester – however stressful – progresses. Such has been the case for me, and having witnessed the fruits thereof, it is my prayer and wish that I not be the only one to partake in such joy and blessings.”