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Luther Seminary receives $21.4 million commitment to pilot a two-year Master of Divinity program
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Luther Seminary has received the largest single donation in its history: a $21.4 million commitment to pilot a two-year Master of Divinity program.
The two-year degree program, covering tuition and some living expenses for students, will launch in fall 2019 and enables students to shorten their education to two years from the current three to four years and ensures that they take on no new personal debt.
Dean Buntrock, the founder and former chairman and CEO of Waste Management, Inc., and long-time benefactor of Lutheran higher education, made the donation covering the five-year pilot program. The donation includes a year of planning and resources to add faculty and staff.
“This pilot project is designed to inspire and support innovative leadership development churchwide," Buntrock said. "It will attract exceptional candidates from across the nation who show potential to be spiritually strong, theologically faithful, and entrepreneurially innovative. The outcomes will lead to further church leadership innovation for years to come. It is also my hope that others in the church will step up and ensure the long term and broad sustainability of education for our church. ”
Buntrock’s gift builds on Luther’s new vision, new curriculum and, starting in fall 2018, the new Jubilee full tuition scholarship for all Master of Divinity and Master of Arts students admitted to Luther Seminary.
“This transformative investment by Dean Buntrock promotes game-changing innovation in educating church leaders, ultimately serving the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and church bodies across the nation,” said Rev. Dr. Robin J. Steinke, president of Luther Seminary. “Luther Seminary’s new vision calls us to undertake exactly this kind of leadership formation, embedded within some of the most adaptive congregations we serve.”
Students enrolled in this newly designed Master of Divinity will work through the curriculum year-round for two consecutive years while completing concurrent part-time congregational internships that provide high-impact learning experiences through real-world application. They will receive full-tuition scholarships, living expense stipends, books and other learning materials, computer software, and travel expenses for immersion experiences. They also will be paid for their internships in accordance with ELCA standards. In addition, by reducing the time spent in seminary to two years, students will realize a significant savings in living expenses, estimated at more than $100,000 per learner.
"Identifying, inviting, equipping, and supporting leaders is one of the highest priorities for our work in the ELCA,” said Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, who launched the ELCA Leadership Initiative in November 2016. "We are thankful for Dean Buntrock's generous investment in Lutheran theological education and the benefits this innovative pilot program will have across the church."
Founded in 1869 by Norwegian Lutheran immigrants, Luther Seminary currently educates nearly 40 percent of the ELCA’s pastors and church leaders, provides continuing education to more than 3,000 pastors each year, and supports more than 50,000 pastors every week through our Working Preacher digital resource.
Our vision is this: the Holy Spirit calls Luther Seminary to lead faithful innovation for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a rapidly changing world.
United Lutheran Seminary Gets $30 Million Gift
|Latini lasted a bit longer as What's-His-Name at Michigan Lutheran Seminary (WELS), and missed out on her $30 million bonus.|
United Lutheran Seminary, a theological school with campuses in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, has received a $30 million bequest from an anonymous donor, described by school officials only as a woman who lived in the Midwest and died earlier this year.
The donation — one of the largest in the history of an educational institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — will be used to fund a faculty chair and student scholarships starting in the fall of next year.
It was announced May 18 on the school’s website before graduation — the first since Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mount Airy and its counterpart in Gettysburg merged last year after decades of failed attempts.
“This [donation] will have a transformative impact on educational opportunities for future leaders of the church for decades to come,” said the Rev. Angela Zimmann, vice president of institutional advancement for the 325-student United Lutheran Seminary. “We’ve been working to reduce their educational debt and make seminary education accessible to those who feel the call to serve, and this donation will have that impact.”
The bequest was made in memory of the Rev. James Franklin Kelly, a Lutheran minister who graduated from Gettysburg Seminary in 1920, and his wife, Hope Anna Eyster Kelly. Rev. Kelly died in 1983 at age 89, and his wife died in 1973.
Rev. Kelly served as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wilmington from 1926 to 1953. He also led the congregations of Christ Lutheran Church in Erie and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Connersville, Ind., where he moved after he resigned from the Wilmington church.
According to obituaries in several newspapers, the Kellys had one daughter, Gladys Kelly Ellis, who died at age 95 in February. She had battled polio and rheumatic fever as a child and became a nurse as a tribute to the women who had tended to her. During World War II, she worked at Fort DuPont in Delaware, helping treat prisoners of war. She later married George M. Ellis Jr., a prominent physician in Connersville, and the couple worked together in his office for 40 years. Dr. Ellis died in 2010. The couple had no children.
Zimmann said that she had met with the anonymous donor in December but had no idea that the bequest was $30 million until the benefactor passed away shortly after their visit.
“The executrix called and said, ‘Do you know how much?’ ” Zimmann said. “We were floored.”
School officials also have announced that Richard Green, who served as interim president of Lincoln University for two years ending in 2017, will become interim president of the seminary on June 4. He takes the helm following the departure of Theresa Latini, who was fired from her position as president in March after less than a year on the job.
Latini was dismissed after reports that she had once led an organization that supported reparative therapy practices claiming to turn gay men and women straight. Latini had long ago repudiated the organization and such practices, but did not disclose her affiliation with the group during interviews for the position. She had told the chairperson of the school’s trustee board about the association, but the official did not share the information with the remainder of the governing body until rumors began circulating on campus. Eight board members resigned during the controversy.
Green, a lifelong Lutheran, is a graduate of Concordia College, an ELCA school in Moorhead, Minn. He earned his doctorate from the University of Louisville. He has served as interim provost at both St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and Albany State University in Georgia.
He joins the seminary at a time when school officials are working to merge two schools, faculties, staffs, student populations, and campus cultures. The seminary is also coping with changes in theological education and religious practice and commitment that are remaking faith life.
Zimmann said she expects the $30 million donation will help the school confront those changes.
Published: May 30, 2018 — 5:43 PM EDT
Wartburg Seminary's Fast Track Program
|Every seminary president should have a doctorate, so Louise Johnson's school gave her one, for outstanding registration work at the Philadelphia Seminary.|
Wartburg Theological Seminary has received a $497,115 grant from The Kern Family Foundation to streamline preparation for pastoral ministry for first career ministerial students in partnership with Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. The grant allows for implementation of a fully integrated Bachelor of Arts/Master of Divinity degree program to provide leadership, theological education and spiritual formation embedded in congregational contexts.
This new program will include 3 years of BA education at Wartburg College with at least one semester interfacing with Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA. The final 3 years (which includes a year to complete an internship required by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) will be located in a collaborative congregational context.
Louise N. Johnson, Wartburg Seminary President, explains, “The generosity of the Kern Foundation and the partnership of Wartburg College offer us an extraordinary opportunity to press into our calling to form young faith leaders, who can proclaim words of hope, healing, forgiveness, mercy, grace to a world desperately longing to hear and to know the living God.”
|Webber started out ELCA, so UOJ is just like home for him.|