The Future is Bright When We Invest in Young Leaders
By: Sherri Gragg
Each year, the Board of Higher Education supports outstanding students through their scholarship program. Marquice Hobbs, who is pursuing his Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, was the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship.
Hobbs recently returned to the United States from studying abroad in Ghana. We were honored to speak with this exceptional young man about what this scholarship has meant to his life, as well as his hopes for future ministry in the UMC.
Q: Marquice, tell us about your background.
A: I was born and raised on the Southside of Houston. My parents separated when I was born, and when I was 18-months-old, my mother asked my father to raise me because she felt a father should raise his son. However, my father’s work took him away from home often, so until high school, I lived with my grandmother. She and my aunt primarily raised me. They instilled in me reverence for God, and taught me to exhibit dignity and honor, and to have self-respect as well as respect for all human life. They also impressed on me the importance of remembering where I came from and to whom I belonged, to appreciate the value of education, and the power of exposure to a wide range of experiences.
Q: How did you receive your calling to ministry?
A: My call, at the age of 15, was far from dramatic. I signed up to lead a Thursday morning devotion at summer camp, read a scripture from my grandfather’s Bible, and delivered a small sermon which I have since forgotten. However, it was after this sermon that the leaders began to come to me to say they “saw something in me.” Once I responded to God’s call, it was like a door of opportunity opened. It is funny how when you follow in the footsteps of God, doors unlock, treasure maps are discovered, and opportunities seem to appear from nowhere.
Q: You just returned from Ghana. Why were you there?
A: I was in Ghana as a student in the study abroad program through Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and Trinity Theological Seminary in Accra, Ghana. During my time in Ghana, I have been a student of Trinity and a student of life. I asked questions, tried new foods, read books, wrote papers, made friends and worshipped in different languages. I am still reflecting on it all.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: Simply put, I want to be a husband and father. If I am anything like my father, I know I will have done well.
I also want to be a pastor. I want to love God’s people, and “get my hands dirty” in the community. It gives me great joy to know God has called me to the beautiful responsibility of shepherding the flock through the teaching of the Scriptures, afflicting the comfortable, comforting the afflicted, and making Christ relevant in the hearts of humanity.
Q: As you consider your future, tell us about what the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship has meant to you.
A: This scholarship has meant that the UMC cares about its future leaders. Most of us know the financial burden school can be. This is amplified once one enters a masters or doctoral program. Many times, ministers who graduate from a Master of Divinity program are confronted with a heavy student loan debt. For my denomination to take this step to alleviate some of this burden speaks volumes.
Most significantly, as a recipient of the scholarship I recognize that the UMC considers me to be a candidate worth their investment. I do not take it lightly that my church sees my potential for ministry, hopes that I will affect positive change in the world, and expects me to uphold a standard of sound doctrine, witness, and mission. Therefore, to be selected is indeed an honor, but it is also a responsibility.