Enabling Effective Ministers

with a family of pastors, the Wesleys saw the challenges they face—and a way to help

Melissa Mobley (above) will become the fifth Wesley Scholar to graduate from Candler, thanks to the endowment created by Emory neighbors Mary and Jim Wesley (below).
Kay Hinton

Emory Photo/Video

Since arriving on campus in the fall to study for a master of divinity degree at Candler School of Theology, Melissa Mobley 15T has volunteered with a local hunger ministry, worked at Winship Cancer Institute with Candler’s contextual education program, and served as a youth minister at Stark United Methodist Church in Jackson, Georgia. 

Mobley, who hopes to be ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church and become a pastor in Georgia, is Candler’s current James and Mary Wesley Scholar. She says the support the scholarship provides “was one of the decisive factors in my choosing Emory for my education.”

The Wesley Scholarship endowment was created by former Emory neighbors Jim and Mary Wesley. They married in 1954, moved into a house on North Decatur Road near the university, and developed affection for Candler School of Theology. Through the years, they witnessed the struggles of the young ministers in Mary’s family—there are ten, and five of them are Candler alumni. They wanted to remove the financial burdens of theological education for students and enable young ministers to become effective earlier in their careers.

The Wesley Scholarship supports a full-time master of divinity degree student preparing to be a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Wesley Scholars must show promise for ministry, achieve academic excellence, and make a commitment to serve local congregations. To renew the scholarship, they must maintain a grade point average of 3.30 or higher and continue preparing for ordination as a minister in the church.

In 2008 the Wesleys celebrated the Candler graduation of the first Wesley Scholar, Jill Moffett Howard 08T, who is now pastor of Morgantown United Methodist Church in Indiana. Mobley is the fifth Wesley Scholar.

“Emory is expanding my horizons when I think about my faith and what it means to serve God,” Mobley says. “It challenges me daily to see beyond what I believe and to consider new evidence and evaluate it in the face of my beliefs. It is a caring and supportive environment where I can ask questions and begin to understand how the questions inform my theology.”

The Wesleys are providing additional support for the scholarship endowment in their estate plans, and they are funding the Wesley Teaching Chapel in the second phase of Candler’s new building project. The new teaching chapel will enhance instruction in preaching, liturgy, and other aspects of worship.

Candler’s second building will be located on the site formerly occupied by Bishops Hall, which served as the theology school’s home from 1957 until 2008. It also will house the 590,000-volume collection of Pitts Theology Library—the nation’s third-largest theology library. Construction is expected to begin this spring, and the new building should be ready for occupancy in time for Candler’s centennial celebration in fall 2014.

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