At the last Federation Board meeting, a proposal was adopted on a matter which had been under consideration for some time. This proposal has been sent to all the societies in the Federation in order that delegates to the Convention may be able to vote on it intelligently. Through societal discussion, the merits and faults of the proposal will become obvious to the society members and they will be able to advise their delegates how they are to vote.
Upon the approval of the delegate board, the proposal would commission the Federation Board to work out a scholarship program for prospective Protestant Reformed ministers and school teachers. The idea is that high school seniors, sincere in their conviction to preach or teach in Protestant Reformed institutions, capable scholastically, and in need of some financial assistance, may apply to a committee of judges for the scholarship award. The money would be an award which the student merits, not at loan. No strings of repayment would be attached unless, of course, the student failed to serve within our Protestant Reformed Churches.
Two factors were especially important in prompting the Federation Board’s action. At present there is a considerable shortage of Protestant Reformed ministers and teachers. That the welfare and very existence of our churches depend upon the alleviation of this shortage is not necessary to be proved. Secondly, there is no scholarship program operative within our churches today.
The solution to the current problem can only come from the young people. The statement that the future of our churches is dependent upon the young people is far more pertinent than most people give it credit for being. Although one begins formally to serve within the church framework as minister or teacher in adulthood, the foundation is laid in youth. Concern for the future of the Protestant Reformed Churches had better express itself in educating the youth. The present Protestant Reformed grade schools demand well educated teachers. At the present, the state of Michigan is beginning to crack down on the elementary schools by demanding that all teachers have at least three years of college education. To speak of a Protestant Reformed High School is to speak of a faculty possessing not only A.B. degrees but also A.M. degrees. This will only be made possible by a great influx of students who can replace the present teachers while they continue their studies.
To the junior and senior high school student of ability comes the plea and demand to face the issue honestly. The continuation of ministerial and educational leadership is your responsibility. You may not like it, but you can do nothing to get rid of it. The present shortage of ministers and the desperate measures taken within our grade schools are not the faults of the seminary nor the harried school boards, but yours if you choose your career by the wrong standard.
The scholarship program is not intended to be a bribe. It is not a salve for the self-inflicted wound of laziness. It will be a stimulus for the capable high school senior who might be held back from college by financial difficulties. Particularly, it might aid the willing young person in one of our western churches who has to bear the double load of paying tuition and living away from home.
Applicants for the scholarship would be judged by a committee appointed by the Federation Board. Probably, the committee would include two young people from the Board, two ministers, two teachers, and one adult layman, preferably a businessman. This committee would represent both the eastern and western sections of the Protestant Reformed Churches. Legal advice procured by the Federation Board urges that steps be taken to form this committee into an association. This would grant legal status to the organization.
To predict the size of the scholarship is almost impossible at this early stage. Similar programs in other churches flourish on the philanthropic gifts of the well-to-do. An association, such as this would be, is very often assisted by being the beneficiary of wills. There are also within our churches various organizations which might supply aid. The impetus, however, must come from the young people themselves. For the first few years, the working capital will be supplied, in the main, from present young people’s funds or by raising the present budget of six dollars per society member.
Within the next ten or fifteen years it is very well possible that a five hundred dollar scholarship be awarded annually from interest or dividends alone. At any rate, the Federation Board will continue to seek legal and economic advice in delving into all aspects of what it considers a needed, promising, and church advancing cause. Meanwhile your comments and criticisms are welcomed.