Ronald G. Neal Jr. (seated left) and Brandon Mangum (seated right) received scholarships from BMCR and BUMP, along with words of wisdom from the Rev. Anita Powell and Bishop Peggy Johnson (seated between them). Also there to support them were their families, pastors and presidents of the two sponsoring organizations: Lawrence Lee (far right) of BMCR and the Rev. Herbert Coe (center) of BUMP. Standing to Coe’s left is new EPA Conference Lay Leader David Koch. John Coleman photo
Black Methodists for Church Renewal and Black United Methodist Preachers together gave two promising young men much needed help in paying for college recently by awarding them each $1,000 scholarships. Brandon Mangum of Janes Memorial UMC, Philadelphia, and Ronald G. Neal Jr. of Eastwick UMC received their awards at a June 28 luncheon in the company of their family members, pastors and leaders of the two organizations.
Several speakers, led by Bishop Peggy Johnson, offered the awardees words of wisdom, encouraging them to stay close to God and serve Christ, make smart choices and pursue their academic goals with confidence and commitment.
Mangum, who has won prizes in science, athletic and oratorical competitions, will attend Penn State University in Harrisburg to study mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, where after taking science courses he “felt engaged and wanted to learn more.” An athlete in baseball, basketball and football, he also placed among the top 10 entries in a monologue contest and won third place as a freshman in a science fair competition.
“I’m glad you are turning out to be the young man God has called you to be,” said his pastor, the Rev. Andrew Foster. The former acolyte is the worship sound engineer for his church.
Neal, who has taken advance courses in economics, calculus and other subjects, will study pre-law at Temple University. He wants to earn law and MBA degrees and start his own business law practice. The Upper Darby High School graduate has “always admired the self-discipline and hard work needed to succeed in business.” At Eastwick UMC “he often stays after church to do whatever we ask him to do,” said the Rev. Michael Roberts, pastor, describing Neal as “our gentle giant with a warm heart and giving spirit.” Neal said he tries to “get more youth involved” in the church.
Bishop Peggy Johnson keynoted the annual luncheon, using scriptures and a collection of zany, symbolic eyeglasses to tell both award winners that true success is not about money, fame, power or conforming to the world’s values, but about selflessly sharing compassion and the peace and good news of Christ with others. “Keep the wisdom of God, not the foolishness of man, ever before you,” she said.
BMCR Chairman Lawrence Lee and Conference Lay Leader–elect David Koch also spoke. BMCR Scholarship Committee Chairwoman Lenora Thompson advised the students on where to find more money for college. “It’s a passion for me,” she said. “There’s tons of money for school out there.”
Central District Superintendent Dr. Anita Adams Powell read and interpreted poet Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Taken,” about making choices and approaching one’s destiny when “you don’t know what lies ahead.”
–By John W. Coleman, EPA Conference Communications Director