Fund for Leaders
The Church Council and I are excited to share the news that Abiding Presence is launching the “Abiding Presence Lutheran Church Fund for Leaders Scholarship” through the ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission. The ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship program supports students of tremendous promise attending ELCA seminaries. By making seminary more affordable, the ELCA Fund for Leaders enables more future ministers to go to seminary and helps them graduate with less debt, empowering those whom God calls into ministry to go and serve as the church needs and the Holy Spirit leads.
As we celebrated our 40th anniversary earlier this year, we remembered the many pastors our congregation has lifted up over the years. We have sent six sons and daughters of the congregation to seminary. As an internship congregation, we have also provided training for six seminarians. Looking to the future, I believe we have several future pastors, deacons and church leaders who we are raising up in our midst.
Rev. Mark Olsen, one of the sons of the congregation who Abiding Presence sent off to serve the larger church as a pastor and now the Associate Director for the ELCA Fund for Leaders, will be will us on Sunday, January 27 at the congregational meeting to celebrate the launch of our Fund for Leaders scholarship. For those of you who would like to visit with Pastor Olsen and his wife, Kari, they will be worshiping with us at the 8:45 a.m. service as well.
On a personal note, this week I will celebrate my 13th anniversary of ordination. When I began seminary in 2002, I received a full tuition Fund for Leaders scholarship. The scholarship was not only allowed me to graduate seminary without having to take out loans, but was also a constant reminder of the support of the whole ELCA of my call to ministry. On the hard days of ministry, I still find strength in the support and financial investment the larger church was willing to pour into me. I live out my ministry hoping that the larger church sees a return in their initial investment in me.
As I look ahead to another year of ordained ministry serving Abiding Presence, I am also mindful of who will step into my shoes in the future. The need for innovative, faithful and willing pastors to serve ELCA congregations is great. I wonder how the Holy Spirit might be working in the lives of our young people and even, too, our older people to answer that call. One of my seminary classmates was in his early 70s when he began seminary, so you’re never “too old” for the Holy Spirit to call! I believe that in our next 40 years together that we will send off even more people to seminary to serve the larger church as pastors and deacons and I’m delighted that we are taking the steps now to prepare to be able to fund their theological education for the sake of the whole church.
We’ll be talking much more about the “Abiding Presence Lutheran Church Fund for Leaders Scholarship” at the café sessions this weekend and at the annual meeting next Sunday. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions about it.