First Plymouth Scholarships:

Changing Lives in Ministry and Church Leadership

This spring at the Iliff School of Theology, we are proud to be awarding the 60th First Plymouth Scholarship to support the academic goals of our students. In recognition of this milestone, Iliff would like to express gratitude and appreciation to the First Plymouth Congregational Church and the First Plymouth Foundation for making a difference in the lives of our students and in their call to ministry.

Thanks to the scholarships from the Turpin Trust at the First Plymouth Foundation, Iliff students have received over $235,000 in scholarship funding since its introduction in 2000. The Turpin Trust was established by two long-term members of the First Plymouth Congregational Church for the religious education and training of leaders for church ministry. In addition, Iliff students affiliated with First Plymouth have also received scholarships from the Frank T. Bayley Fund to pursue their career in ministry, other religious employment, or social work.

Scholarship funds are critical in helping students reach their academic goals while allowing them to graduate with lower debt. Many of our students enter careers as ministers and non-profit leaders, jobs that traditionally have a lower salary, and our partnership with First Plymouth has helped to significantly reduce the financial burden of students planning to be church leaders. One student noted, “I would not be able to attend Iliff without financial assistance and the First Plymouth Scholarship has made my call to ministry a reality.”

Additionally, Iliff students regularly participate in services and in internships at First Plymouth Congregational Church and the Church hosts lectures series featuring Iliff faculty, such as the 2016 “Race and Racism Lecture Series.” Iliff and First Plymouth Foundation also partnered on an educational outreach event with the Denver Inner City Parish, which helped train students on building meaningful relationships and ways of working across difference and diversity.

First Plymouth Congregational Church is a congregation of the United Church of Christ and one of the oldest and largest Congregational churches in Colorado. First Plymouth was formed in the merger of two early Denver churches: First Congregational, which was founded in 1864 in what is now downtown Denver, and Plymouth Congregational, founded in 1884. Both of these congregations were known for justice work and First Plymouth has carried that legacy into the 20th and 21st centuries, engaging in work focused on affordable housing, the prevention of gun violence, justice and inclusion for LGBTQI persons, racial justice, and environmental restoration. Today, First Plymouth is known for this advocacy work, and for its excellent music programs, vibrant and diverse community, and engaging worship. Its facility at 3501 S. Colorado Boulevard was recently renovated, leading to a reduced carbon footprint, improved communal space, and a beautiful redesigned worship space.

While Iliff celebrates its 127th anniversary this year, First Plymouth Congregational Church is in its 155th year, and the First Plymouth Foundation is commemorating its 37th anniversary. We want to publicly thank our partners and we look forward to our continued journey on preparing students for ministry and church leadership.

If your congregation is interested in partnering with the Iliff School of Theology, including sponsoring a student’s studies in preparation for ministry, please contact Marsena Holsopple at 303-765-3122 or

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