Houston Native Named 2011-2012 Dempster Scholar


Rev. Carolyn Davis is one of 13 students selected for the Dempster Graduate Fellowships, which supports students who are committed  to serving the church by becoming seminary professors who will educate the next generation of United Methodist pastors.


Davis was ordained a deacon in full connection in the Texas Annual Conference in May 2010.  Prior to her candidacy, she was a member of Bellaire UMC in Houston, Texas, serving in the church’s youth ministry program.


Rev. Davis has also served in the area of youth ministry in Dallas, Texas, as well as Atlanta, Georgia.  “I’ve also had the pleasure of serving on the staffs of the Emory Youth Theological Initiative and Perkins Youth School of Theology,” says Davis.  “Several experiences working with youth in various forms of crisis led me to want to help pastors and churches think more theologically about (and with!) young people.”


In 2008, Rev. Davis applied for doctoral work at Vanderbilt University.  Currently, she is a Fellow in Theology and Practice, a program that emphasizes practical theology and trains doctoral students in teaching for ministry and she’s also serving as the coordinator for the divinity school's United Methodist Student Association. 


The Dempster Program has proven to be a blessing and affirmation for Davis’ life over the past several years.  This is actually the third year in a row that she has been awarded the fellowship, leaving her feeling very humbled and passionate about the importance of higher education in the United Methodist Church  “The fellowship has also given me the opportunity to get connected with many folks at GBHEM, resulting in the chance to work as a research intern on several projects over the past two summers, including a series of book reviews for the new Explore Calling program and an interview project on the state of the district superintendency,” says Davis.


Overview of the Dempster Graduate Fellowship

The fellowship is named for the Rev. John Dempster, a pioneer in United Methodist theological education. Converted at a Methodist camp meeting in 1812, he preached in New York, served as a missionary in Argentina, and founded Boston University School of Theology and Garrett Biblical Institute (Garrett-Evangelical Seminary) in Evanston, Illinois.

The purpose of this fellowship is to increase the effectiveness of teaching in United Methodist schools of theology by assisting worthy Ph.D. students who are committed to serving the church through theological education.

The fellowships are funded by the Ministerial Education Fund through General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s  Division of  Ordained Ministry Awards — based on the student’s academic achievement, their commitment to Christian ministry, and their promise as educators — carry a value of up to $10,000 annually, with a maximum of  $30,000 over a five-year period.  


“These awards represent The United Methodist Church’s strong commitment to excellence in theological education and have helped graduate students move toward careers in theological education for the past five decades,” said the Rev. Dr. Helen R. Neinast, who works with ministerial education as a consultant for the Division of Ordained Ministry.


Basis of Award

The awards are made annually to graduate students selected on the basis of the following criteria:


  • Intellectual excellence
  • Academic achievement
  • Promise of usefulness in teaching careers
  • Personal qualities
  • Clarity of spiritual purpose and
  • Commitment to Christian ministry and the preparation of pastoral leadership for the church

The Committee on Awards will give due regard to the encouragement of students preparing to teach in United Methodist institutions in fields in which there is a need for teachers.


To learn more about the Dempster Fellowships, visit www.gbhem.org/dempsterfellowship. To donate to the endowment online, visit www.umhef.org.