Donor Spotlight: Rick and Vicki James

Some people are called to give. Over the last three years, Mr. and Mrs. Rick and Vicki James have created three James Master Scholar partnerships, covering three full-tuition scholarships for top students, and have committed $500,000 toward general scholarships at United Theological Seminary — and that’s all on top of other charitable work their foundation supports on local, state and national levels.

God knew we would use our means not selfishly but to give back to our church, our community, to other people. So I think that’s why we’ve been blessed with what we have,” Mrs. James said. “God’s commission for us is to give back.

Aware that many theological students graduate from seminary with more than $60,000 in debt, in 2013 the James family committed to provide full tuition for the duration of one student’s degree program at United.

“We want, in some way, to affect other people by bringing Christ to them,” Mrs. James said. “So we thought, if this student comes out of seminary with megabucks of debt, how are they ever going to get that paid back? It would be one less thing they would have to worry about if we could help to make it easier for them.”

The first James Master Scholarship was awarded to Master of Divinity student Brian Lothridge, who is already pastoring a church in the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church. Two new James Scholars will begin their studies at United in Fall 2016.

“Seeing how Brian has grown and developed and his enthusiasm and excitement with everything, it just makes us realize, we have the means to do this. Let’s do it and help a couple other students have the same opportunity,” Mrs. James said.

The couple’s goal is not just to reduce student debt, but to help students attain a meaningful education.

“Education is one piece of a foundation you need to be successful in life,” Mr. James said. “I think it’s a lot of things — education, faith, relationships — and you have to build all those things over your life.”

The James family is clearly helping to provide that foundation for many. Recently, they committed a generous gift of $500,000 toward general scholarships at United, which will defray the costs of theological education for numerous students. Mrs. James celebrates the opportunity to help United students fulfill their call to ministry.

“What better way to use your money than to help further God’s kingdom and to invest in someone who is called into ministry?”

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