Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seminarians awarded Fund for Leaders scholarships

Brett Betkoski and Elyssa Salinas, students at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), were honored in early October with full scholarships, awarded starting with the current academic year. The awards, from the Fund for Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), are part of the ELCA’s commitment to support seminarians preparing for ministry.

Betkoski and Salinas were among 16 first-year seminarians from the eight seminaries of the ELCA, including LTSP, honored at a banquet October 5 attended by ELCA synod bishops, synod vice presidents, seminary presidents, leaders of the ELCA’s churchwide ministries, donors, and supporters of the Fund for Leaders.

"You bring the light of Jesus. You bring the presence of the spirit. You bring the life of the way of the cross with you, and through you, God is already renewing this church," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson. In his address to the recipients, Hanson thanked ELCA seminaries and the 65 synods of the ELCA for their role in developing new leaders.

"Tonight we say thanks be to God for all the people you've brought with you," Hanson said. "It's the responsibility of everyone in this room, particularly bishops, vice presidents of synods and seminary faculty to prepare a church to be ready to receive you," he said, adding, "We've got to be ready for the church to receive your gifts, your wisdom, your curiosity, your love for Jesus, your desire to work for justice and peace."

The ceremony also included a special presentation from the Rev. Roger Haug and the Rev. Paige Whitney, Grace Lutheran Church in Waseca, Minn. Whitney was a Fund for Leaders scholarship recipient in 2007. She and Haug presented a $250,000 gift to create the Grace Lutheran Church Seminary Scholarship Fund in honor of the congregation's 75th anniversary this year. The scholarship gift will be part of the ELCA Southeastern Minnesota Synod Fund for Leaders endowment.

Now in its 12th year, the Fund for Leaders is an ELCA initiative to build an endowed scholarship resource to provide tuition assistance for qualified candidates studying at ELCA seminaries. When fully endowed, the fund's goal is to provide full-tuition assistance for every ELCA seminary student committed to a future in parish ministry.

"This is a diverse and exciting group, representative of their colleagues who are also entering seminary," said Michael Nevergall, who serves as director for ELCA Fund for Leaders. "I am very excited about where we are headed."

Information about the ELCA Fund for Leaders is available at

Information for this story from the ELCA News Service

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