The late Rev. Roger A. Hopson with his wife, Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson. Photo made available by Centenary UMC.

By Tyler Sprouse, TWK Communications Specialist 

For over 42 years, the late Rev. Roger A. Hopson (1950-2022) was dedicated to educating and ministering to people with deep care, courage, and compassion. Now, thanks to a new initiative by the UMC’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), that legacy will extend to a new generation of church leaders.

In February, the GBHEM announced the creation of the Rev. Roger A. Hopson Seminary Scholarship, whose deadline is March 30, to financially support persons of color pursuing a Master of Divinity at one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries and schools of theology in the United States. 

According to Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson, the wife of the late Rev. Hopson, the idea for this kind of scholarship originated in 2021.

“When GBHEM and Discipleship Ministries sold their building,” Dr. Hopson said, “they were already discussing their commitment to use some of the proceeds to create ways to equal the playing field for future seminary applicants.

“A few months after Roger passed, the board told me they were naming this scholarship in his memory and honor. I was overwhelmed and deeply grateful when I heard the news.”

As Dr. Hopson emphasized, the focus of this new scholarship is directly in line with Rev. Hopson’s lifelong commitment to fairness and justice.

“Roger always ensured that everyone was treated fairly,” recounted Dr. Hopson. “As a District Superintendent, he went to bat for his pastors and made sure they got a fair shake in the appointment process and beyond.”

This scholarship is doubly apt given Rev. Hopson’s early career as a social studies teacher in Dyer County, TN. 

“He was a fantastic teacher,” said Dr. Hopson. “He was patient with and kind to his students, and he made a lasting impact on their lives. For example, one of his former students named his firstborn son after Roger.

“When I became a teacher,” said Dr. Hopson, “it was Roger’s example that inspired me. Even when he entered the ministry, he never lost that passion for education.”

Recipients of the Rev. Roger A. Hopson scholarship will get the opportunity to live into this larger legacy of justice, equity, and compassion.

“This is what this scholarship is all about: living a life of boldness and servant leadership, as Roger did,” said Dr. Hopson. “He found his joy in helping others. I hope recipients will feel the power of someone investing in them, so that they, too, can stand up for what is right in their respective communities.

“Roger spent his career building bridges of love, justice, and hope,” continued Dr. Hopson. “If recipients keep this guiding light in front of them, they will embody his example.”

Although, in her own words, she could not have imagined this possibility, Dr. Hopson could not be more grateful for the GBHEM’s vision. 

“My husband was a beautiful man,” said Dr. Hopson, “and this scholarship is the perfect way to honor him and continue his legacy.”