25th Anniversary

Fund for Leaders 25th Anniversary


25 years of Fund for Leaders from the ELCA.

A new series of videos celebrates 25 years of Fund for Leaders by telling the stories of past scholarship recipients across the ELCA. See the difference Fund for Leaders made in the lives of these leaders, and learn about the ways they are impacting in their communities. | VIEW



Learn how the Fund for Leaders is making an impact in your community and beyond.


Fund for Leaders 25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago, at the 1997 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, leaders of our church presented a case for establishing what we now know as the ELCA Fund for Leaders and challenged the church to make a robust commitment to theological education for its future leaders. In 2000 the Fund for Leaders awarded its first eight scholarships. Now, the Fund for Leaders supports over 300 candidates for ministry with over $3.2 million in scholarships. Including synodical scholarship recipients, the Fund for Leaders network of alums has grown to over a thousand!

We will celebrate the Fund for Leaders all year with new stories from alums, new resources and the first in-person scholarship award banquet since 2019. We will also continue to grow the Fund for Leaders. The fund is providing $1 million more in scholarship support annually than it was five years ago. With your help, we hope to increase our annual awards by another $1 million in the next five years. That will allow us to give 50 full-tuition scholarships to promising leaders every year.

Together, we are working toward our ultimate goal: a future in which every ELCA seminary candidate can graduate without the burden of financial debt.

Fund for Leaders Videos

A Ministry That Empowers People


Fund for Leaders scholar Wanda Frenchman helps lead the Native American Urban Ministry in Phoenix, Ariz. which was founded by her mother, Mary Louise Frenchman. Wanda is participating in the TEEM program at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. This allows her to pursue rostered ministry while she continues to lead her community in Phoenix. | VIEW

We Don’t Become Leaders by Accident


Fund for Leaders alum Meredith Kesely has served as the head pastor at Abiding Presence in Burke, Va. since 2010. In 2021, the congregation called Kelsey Kresse, another Fund for Leaders alum, to serve as its associate pastor. Both pastors reflect on their leadership journeys and the ways Abiding Presence is fostering future leaders. | VIEW