About the Fund
Supporting leaders for the future
The Fund for Leaders is an endowed scholarship resource created to insure that faithful and promising men and women can accept the call to ministry and provide leadership for the ELCA in the 21st Century.
- Reduce debt of seminary graduates
- Attract and encourage more candidates
- Affirm those who respond to the call
- Meet the need to respond to new and changing mission challenges worldwide
- With gifts and endowment distributions fund a current scholarship program
- Fund a general granting program that provides limited support to all qualified candidates
- Build the endowment through cash gifts and planned gifts designated to the endowment
- Raise $200 million to endow seminary tuition support for future leaders of the ELCA
There is a great need in the church and the world for leaders who are thoroughly equipped for mission and ministry. And, it is the responsibility of the whole church to identify, train, and support those whom God calls to this important work.
This preparation for leadership and service is the mission and responsibility of the eight seminaries of the ELCA throughout the United States. A continuing challenge in theological education is to provide qualified students with the financial resources needed to meet the costs associated with their educations.
By the year 2012, many current ELCA clergy will have retired. Although there is an increasing number of students attending seminary, we need more women and men to serve in existing and new congregations. To prepare for rostered ministry, students spend three years in academic preparation and one year on internship.
As the cost of running our seminaries climbs, so do the debt-loads of new pastors. The average annual tuition at an ELCA seminary is $12,000 and the typical student also incurs living expenses ranging from $15,000 to $26,000 depending on his or her family situation. That brings the cumulative cost of attending seminary (three academic years) to a range of $70,000 to $102,000.
Graduates with Debt
Students make tremendous sacrifices to answer God’s call. Seventy percent of ELCA seminary students take out loans to fund their education and may anticipate a typical monthly loan payment of $300 to $600. Many pastors who feel called to serve smaller or struggling congregations simply cannot accept such calls because the salaries will not allow them to meet these loan commitments.
Today is a pivotal time to be involved in the church. The spiritual hunger in our world offers Lutherans a special opportunity to speak and act boldly in witness to God's steadfast love and presence in these times of great change.
Domestically and globally, the ELCA reaches out to millions of people who hunger for the life-giving message of salvation. Whether at home or abroad, in cities or rural communities, among the wealthy or the poor, the ELCA needs faithful leaders who can share the Gospel with seekers and lead communities of faith.
The ELCA created the Fund for Leaders to provide financial assistance to seminarians and encourage excellence in ministry. In partnership with seminaries, synods, and congregations, the Fund’s mission is to insure full-tuition support for the projected 1,400 ELCA students annually enrolled in the ELCA seminaries. We are grateful for the generous gifts that have made it possible to provide scholarships to 187 seminary students in the 2010-2011 academic year for a total of $1 million.
Who benefits from the Fund?
- Future leaders of the ELCA
- Pastors, teaching theologians, and lay ministers (associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers)
- Members and future members of ELCA congregations whose lives will be impacted by leaders who have been prepared by this church's seminaries
- ELCA seminaries which will be strengthened by new resources and increasing enrollments find out how you can get involved