McCord Interns Want to Give Back to Church

Date Posted: 2/23/2011

When a group of college students got off a bus in Nashville, Tennessee, they had no idea how changed they would be when they got back on that bus five days later.


The 2011 Lina H. McCord summer interns came for orientation January 12-17, and it was a true learning experience for all of them.


Each year, students from the 11 historically black colleges and universities related to The United Methodist Church are selected upon recommendation of their college presidents to serve as goodwill ambassadors for the Black College Fund, which supports those schools.


Over the course of five intense days, they are trained on speech and diction, dress and presentation, the history of the Black College Fund and the role The United Methodist Church plays in higher education. Then they travel to annual (regional) conference meetings and other church events to speak about the importance of supporting the fund.  After a year of service, interns are named McCord ambassadors.


“The students can tell their stories better than anyone else can. I can tell you the story, but to really hear how they’ve been nurtured at these schools and how the faculty take an interest in them, it has to come from them,” said Cynthia Bond Hopson, a Black College Fund executive at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.


Investing in a Life

The program began when Lina H. McCord, Black College Fund executive director from 1979 to 1985, wanted to illustrate the kinds of students supported by the fund.


In 1981, she invited two students to talk about their schools. In exchange for scholarships, they were asked to visit churches through the summer.


The project was highly rated by both annual conference participants and students, and the Black College Fund Student Itineration Program began. It was renamed the Lina H. McCord Summer Intern Program when McCord retired in 1985.  McCord passed away in 2010.


McCord ambassadors serve for life, and may be called on to do presentations years after their internship.


Butler is editor of young adult content for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Vicki Brown, associate editor and writer, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, contributed to this report.