Ministerial Education Fund eases journey

December 10, 2013

Nico Romeijn-Stout has never lacked for role models in his path to attending Boston University School of Theology. Both his parents are ordained United Methodist elders in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, as were his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-uncle. Boston University School of Theology is one of the 13 colleges and seminaries supported by The Ministerial Education Fund.

“I have also come to know many other professionals in ministry — clergy and lay — who helped to raise me, mentor me and shepherd me through discerning my call,” he said. 

Now 23 and a second-year Master of Divinity student, Romeijn-Stout recently received a $3,000 Special Seminary Scholarship from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He serves as a ministry assistant at the university’s Marsh Chapel, where he participates in leadership, worship design, the website and an active social media presence.

The chapel is also where he reaches out to Boston University students and the broader community. He realized the importance of this on April 15, when his job put him on the front lines of response to the Boston Marathon bombings. “We were able to provide shelter, warmth, bathrooms, power outlets for phones, and some food and drinks for people who were stranded by the attacks,” he said.

Romeijn-Stout believes “the earliest inklings” that God was calling him to full-time ministry came at age 15 when he volunteered at Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center, a United Methodist site outside Ellensburg, Wash. An avid runner, hiker, rock climber and kayaker, he still works each summer at the camp, most recently as assistant program coordinator.

“From there,” he recalled, “my opportunities to explore ministry blossomed.” During high school, he was involved in leading the conference Council on Youth Ministries and then moved on to the Young Adult Council. He participated in several national and international United Methodist events for young people, and decided after Exploration 2009 in Dallas that going to seminary would be his first step after graduating from the University of Puget Sound.

Romeijn-Stout chose Boston University School of Theology “for a variety of reasons: a strong academic reputation; a legacy of being open, inclusive and justice-minded; and special programs such as Religion and Conflict Transformation.

“The biggest reason,” he said, “was that, for me, Boston University just felt right. Everything clicked into place, and it felt like a school I could call home.”

He especially loves the balance between classroom and practical experiences. Besides theological studies and service through the chapel, his first academic year included a visit to the United Nations and a travel seminar in Montreal, working with immigrant and refugee communities.

“Without the financial support of The United Methodist Church,” he said, “I would either be in an incredible and possibly unbearable amount of debt, or simply not be able to attend seminary at all. I believe that as a future clergyperson in The United Methodist Church, I should be able to go where I am needed the most, where I can do the most good.

“If I did not have the support of the Ministerial Education Fund and the Special Seminary Scholarship Fund, I may not have (had) the financial flexibility to answer and live out my call.”

The fund is the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ. The 13 United Methodist seminaries in the United States help students to discover their calling through challenging curriculum.

— Story written by Bill Fentum, a freelance writer living in Irving, TX.

The Ministerial Education Fund apportionment designated by the UMC provides support for United Methodist Pastors' education and training. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100%.