In the 1990s our church created the ELCA Fund for Leaders (FFL) as an endowed scholarship resource. It was designed to insure that faithful and promising men and women can provide pastoral leadership for the ELCA. Over the years, a steadily growing number of the ELCA’s 65 synods have started their own endowment funds within the Fund.
Last month, by action of our synod council, the Northwestern Minnesota Synod became the 48th synod to do so. The name of our new endowment within the FFL is the NW MN Synod Fund for Leaders Endowment, and it has been assigned its own fund code (E272412) to ensure proper crediting of all contributions.
Why might members and congregations of our synod care about this? Four reasons:
- Reducing debt: Educational debt loads are making it difficult for seminary graduates to “get a leg up” financially. With many first-call pastors servicing $40,000 or more in student debt from seminary alone, they often struggle to make minimum payments on their student loans which can amount up to $600 a month.
- Recruiting pastors: The supply of pastors is tight—tighter than we’ve seen in years. That’s why we’re redoubling our recruitment efforts, encouraging young persons to consider pastoral ministry as their life’s work. The FFL, and specifically our synod’s endowment within it, can be a tremendous tool for providing scholarships that will make it more affordable to attend an ELCA seminary.
- Assisting seminarians from our synod: By establishing the NW MN Synod Fund for Leaders Endowment, our synod will soon have a new opportunity—to direct scholarship funds toward seminarians who come from our synod.
- Achieving our ELCA Campaign goals: All gifts to the NW MN Synod Fund for Leaders Endowment will also count toward our synod’s goal to raise at least $1.5 million for the FFL as part of our larger goal of $4.75 million for Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA.
Here are five ways you and your congregation can get involved:
- Learn about how the ELCA Fund for Leaders is making a difference in the life of a seminarian from our synod by watching the video clip ELCA Fund for Leaders Story—Elise Tweten at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50EPiYf-2eA&feature=youtu.be
- Download and share with others the Mini-Case Statement: Fund for Leaders under the ELCA Campaign resources at http://elca.org/Resources/Campaign-for-the-ELCA
- Encourage your congregational council to lift up the Campaign for the ELCA by making use of the Congregation Toolkit Booklet produced by our synod—two copies of which were mailed to all congregations in August 2016. You may download the Toolkit at http://nwmnsynod.org/campaign-for-the-elca/ Urge your congregation to prioritize the NW MN Synod Fund for Leaders Endowment within your church’s overall giving goals for the Campaign.
- Make your own gift to the Fund for Leaders by sending a check, payable to the Northwestern Minnesota Synod and printing Fund for Leaders E272412 on the memo line. Please mail your check to NW MN Synod ELCA, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN 56562.
- Invite Amy Bigot of the ELCA Foundation to present a workshop on planned giving in your congregation, and ask her to lift up ways that congregational members can remember the Northwestern Minnesota Synod Fund for Leaders in their estate plans. Amy’s email address is Amy.Bigot@elca.org or you may call her at 763.443.3750.