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Mayers offer endowed scholarship for MDiv students

The Don and Lynnea Mayer United Church of Christ Endowed Scholarship, established in 2006 to honor the life and ministry of its namesakes, has provided more than $40,000 in scholarship funds to 12 Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry graduate students with financial need.

Lynnea and Donald Mayer are avid supporters of the STM.

Through this endowment, Don and Lynnea will generous financial awards that reduce the cost of higher education and lessen students’ post-graduation debt.

With a reduced debt burden students are more likely to pursue and remain in their calling after graduation, they say.

As an inclusive Christian school dedicated to interreligious relationships for the common good, the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Seattle University challenges students to engage in a transformative community of teaching and learning where collaborative action for a more just and humane world is imagined, they said.

For many student recipients, including Trina Banks, who graduated with a master of divinity in June 2017, the opportunity to attend STM and thrive as a member of its community was only possible with donor supported financial aid.

Trina will live her vision for improving lives as a leader in her church and other ministerial settings.

Born in New Orleans and raised along with her younger brother in the Southern Baptist Christian tradition, she  chose to attend Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry because of its reputation for academic excellence and notable alumni who have made lasting impacts on the world.

Her educational goal was to become ordained for leadership in the United Church of Christ and to obtain the credentials for licensing as a hospice chaplain.

When she graduated, Trina was serving on the ministerial team at Liberation United Church of Christ in Seattle and also volunteering as a chaplain at King County Juvenile Detention Center.

She looks forward to serving as an ordained pastor in her church and as a chaplain in a local hospital or hospice facility.

Trina said the scholarship ensured that she had the financial resources to complete her degree at this Jesuit university, “which is infused with values that complement my own,” she said.

Other recipients in previous years and their classes are master of divinity students Kevin Bechtold, 2013; Natasha Burrowes, 2015; Allison Decker, 2018; Linda Gasparovic, 2015; Karen Hollis, 2012; Sophia Morse, 2010; Amara Oden, 2020; Corey Passons, 2016; Margaret Rodgers, 2015; Mark Travis, 2016, and Rebecca Withington 2011.

Since graduating, Karen was ordained in the United Church of Canada in British Columbia and is now campus minister at the University of British Columbia.

Corey is the interfaith minister at the Community for Interfaith Celebration in Olympia.

Margaret is a chaplain in the U.S. Army.

Rebecca is pastor at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Anacortes.

“Nationally, seminary students graduate with an average of $70,000 in debt,” said Don. “Many of these students may also be carrying debt from their undergraduate education. The overall effect is that graduates leaving college to pursue their careers are often saddled with significant debt that impacts their ability to pursue and stay in church leadership roles.”

The average annual cost of tuition and fees for students pursuing graduate degrees in the School of Theology and Ministry is $46,204.

For students pursuing Master of Divinity degrees, the tuition and fees are $71,118. Currently, Seattle University is able to provide financial support to just over half of the 47 percent of its graduate students who demonstrate financial need.

“In the years ahead, the university is committed to doubling the amount of donor-funded financial aid to meet the growing financial needs of undergraduate and graduate students, reduce their debt burden and provide more students access to higher education,” he said.

Don and Lynnea have been involved many years with the STM’s development and see it as “a singular contemporary institutional embodiment of the theological passion in which the United Church of Christ was conceived and born.”  That passion affirms “our devotion to one God...confronting the divisions and hostilities of our world, and hearing with a deepened sense of responsibility the prayer of our Lord ‘that they all may be one’.” (Basis of Union, 1943).

“There is no doubt that we are still confronting divisions and hostilities of our world,” they said.  “The prayer of our Lord that all may be one calls us to a far deeper and wider sense of responsibility than our UCC forefathers and mothers could ever have imagined 60 years ago.

“For those of us who love the history and contemporary life of the United Church of Christ, the School of Theology and Ministry is an astonishing response to that calling,” said Don and Lynnea.  “We are deeply grateful to all who have responded to the fulfillment of that call.”

For information, call 206-382-3182, email or visit


Pacific Northwest United Church News © September-October 2017


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