A Celebration of Thanksgiving service to acknowledge the Dr. Grover C. and Irma S. Wright Scholarship Fund for African American Lutheran Students, the first endowment designated for African American Lutheran students enrolled at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), will be held on Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm at the Shaeffer-Ashmead Chapel on the seminary campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue, in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The celebration is open to the public, with free parking on the campus. A free will offering will benefit the scholarship fund.
“The initial funding of $75,000 for this wonderful new resource [The Wright Scholarship Fund] was given by Mrs. Irma Wright from the Black Lutheran Community Development Corporation to continue the legacy of her deceased husband, Dr. Grover C. Wright, and his work within the Lutheran Church,” says Dr. Addie Butler, co-chair of the Celebration. According to Larry House, Director of Leadership Giving for the LTSP Foundation, “this scholarship will help new Lutheran students to be prepared to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Pastor for the Celebration service will be The Rev. Dr. Rudolph R. Featherstone, a long-time friend and colleague of Dr. Grover and Irma Wright, and recently retired professor of cross-cultural theological studies and mission at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio. Featherstone, the first African-American graduate of Gettysburg College, has spent his life serving as a visionary leader in the Lutheran ministry. He served as pastor to Lutheran parishes in the Bronx and Jamaica, New York and Detroit. Featherstone graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 1960 and Harvard Divinity School in 1972.
BACKGROUND: Grover C. Wright was born in 1926 in Thomaston, Alabama, and spent his early years in Philadelphia working as a Pullman Car Porter and as a supporter of the A. Phillip Randolph Union of Sleeping Car Porters. Wright became connected with the Lutheran Church and later retired from railroad work to become an Associate in Ministry in 1968, with the goal of strengthening the community center at the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 30th and Diamond Streets in Philadelphia. In 1972, he was appointed by the Division for Professional Leadership of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be Associate Director with special responsibilities for encouraging persons of African American heritage to be pastors and lay leaders in the church. During this time, Wright helped to establish the Association of Black Lutherans, now known as the African American Lutheran Association (AALA), which has 12 chapters nationwide, including Philadelphia.
Wright founded the Black Lutheran Community Development Corporation (BLCDC) in Philadelphia in 1987 as a nonprofit organization to provide quality affordable housing to homeless and low income single parent families, and to offer comprehensive support services to economically and socially disadvantaged residents living in north central Philadelphia. Wright organized and developed the BLCDC into a ministry that served the target region for about 20 years. After Wright’s death in 1997, his wife Irma continued to work tirelessly to maintain the BLCDC mission of aid to the poor of north Philadelphia. As the BLCDC voted to dissolve, its assets were subsequently transferred to pursue the goal of Irma Wright of establishing a fund to support African American students studying at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
More information about Dr. and Mrs. Wright and the scholarship fund can be found online at Ltsp.edu/GroverIrmaWrightScholarship.
The Wright Scholarship Fund is intended for African-American Lutheran students who plan to become ordained ministers in the ELCA. The award will be granted to students demonstrating both financial need and significant leadership potential in serving the ELCA. Gifts to benefit the scholarship fund can be given online at Ltsp.edu/give.