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Awards honor champions of historically black colleges

The Rev. John G. Corry accepts a 2008 H.O.P.E. Award from Cynthia Bond Hopson (left) and Lillian Ferguson during the 41st annual meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. UMNS photos by Linda Green.

By Linda Green*
March 6, 2008 | LOS ANGELES (UMNS) 

Two United Methodists are the recipients of the 2008 H.O.P.E. legacy awards from the Black College Fund for giving hope to 11 historically black colleges and universities related to The United Methodist Church.

The Rev. John G. Corry, chaplain and senior adviser to the president for United Methodist Church Affairs at Meharry Medical College, and Angella Current-Felder, executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarships for the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, received the awards Feb. 28 during the 41st annual meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal in Los Angeles.

The Heritage, Opportunity, Preparation and Education awards were initiated in 2001 and are given annually to recognize "exceptional contributions in continuing a tradition of hope in the historically black colleges and universities related to The United Methodist Church," said Cynthia Bond Hopson, director of the Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns at the Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Nearly 16,000 students attend the 11 church-related, historically black schools. The 35-year-old Black College Fund is supported by local church apportionments and promoted through an internship program named for former fund executive Lina H. McCord.

A helping hand

Current-Felder has encouraged many United Methodist students to make a difference through education. She leads the Women of Color Scholars program, which is designed to increase the number of women of color serving on seminary faculties as teachers and researchers. The Office of Loans and Scholarships awards approximately $6 million in financial assistance annually to more than 3,500 students.

Hopson presents a second H.O.P.E. Award to Angella Current-Felder of the United Methodist Office of Loans and Scholarships.

"I am humbled by being a recipient of the H.O.P.E. Award," said Current-Felder as she shared the moment with her mother, Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly.

Current-Felder told the luncheon audience that her parents encouraged her and her three siblings to be their own persons but also to fulfill their responsibility "for the liberation of black people. I accept this award. I was only doing what God told me to do," she said.

Trailblazer in the church

A trailblazer in many areas of the church, Corry was the first African-American district superintendent in the Tennessee Annual (regional) Conference. He has served as president of the Judicial Council, the denomination's supreme court, and is the author of nine publications. He is in his 35th year of employment at United Methodist-related Meharry in Nashville, Tenn.

With his family in attendance, Corry told the audience that he is "always humbled when someone recognizes the work I have done. I have been supported by a host of witnesses … and I know I could not have done those things without the grace of God."

Past recipients include Current-Felder’s father, Gloster Current Sr., the Rev. Chestina Mitchell Archibald, on-air personality Tom Joyner, Larry Jenkins of the Thurston Group, and the Rev. Walter L. Kimbrough and his wife, author and professor Marjorie L. Kimbrough.

The Dillard University choir performs.

A highlight of the annual luncheon is a table competition to raise money to support scholarships for the historically black college represented by its choir at the gathering. This year, the competition awarded $10,000 to Dillard University of New Orleans and its choir.

Participants opened their wallets after watching tables of the "battling bishops and spouses." Two episcopal tables, one led by Dillard alumni Bishop Alfred and Mackie Norris and another led by Bishop Melvin and Marilyn Magee Talbert, squared off with their checkbooks to enliven the festivities.

"What happens at black colleges does not happen everywhere else," Hopson said, noting that the colleges accept students who have potential but who may have never experienced "I think I can encouragement."

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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The Black College Fund

Black College Fund-supported Colleges

United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry

Meharry Medical College

Dillard University

Black Methodists for Church Renewal

Profile: Lina McCord

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