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ELCA Mission Investment Fund Announces Challenge Gift to Fund for Leaders

Date Fri, 15 Feb 2008 16:23:41 -0600

Title: ELCA Mission Investment Fund Announces Challenge Gift to Fund for Leaders ELCA NEWS SERVICE

February 15, 2008

ELCA Mission Investment Fund Announces Challenge Gift to Fund for Leaders 08-015-FI

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Fund for Leaders announced a $1.5 million challenge gift from the Mission Investment Fund (MIF) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The MIF gift is the single largest cash donation ever given to the Fund for Leaders. It challenges the Fund to raise $3 million over a three- year period to receive the gift. The resulting endowment will provide scholarship assistance to eligible students enrolled in a qualified mission developer program at any of the eight ELCA seminaries.

The challenge gift was announced at a Feb. 4 consultation here on seminary student debt convened by the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop.

The Fund for Leaders is an ELCA initiative to build an endowed scholarship resource that provides tuition assistance to 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.

"We are delighted to receive this gift and this challenge from the Mission Investment Fund. Its size and scope are transformative to our church's approach to training and supporting those who want to start new ministries," said the Rev. Paul N. Hanson, director, ELCA Fund for Leaders.

"This church needs pastors who have the gifts and passion for starting new congregations," said Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer and president of the Mission Investment Fund. "Through the establishment of the MIF Mission Developer Scholarship, MIF is supporting the development of pastors who will lead our outreach efforts in the coming years. It is core to what the Mission Investment Fund is all about -- supporting the growth of the Lutheran church," she said.

In 2007, the ELCA, through local and synod partnerships, started 42 mission congregations in 27 states around the United States and Caribbean. There are currently 172 mission congregations in various stages of development.

"Mission developer pastors are uniquely qualified to enter diverse settings and build Christian communities of disciples for Jesus Christ, serving both the church and the world on behalf of the ELCA," said the Rev. Ruben F. Duran, director for development of new congregations, ELCA Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission.

"The Mission Investment Fund is constantly looking for ways to build up and assist the ELCA in its vital ministry of starting congregations. We saw a unique opportunity to directly support and encourage leaders who will start new ministries and further God's kingdom," said Eva Roby, MIF vice president.

Fund for Leaders distributes $3 million to students

Since 2000, the Fund for Leaders has distributed almost $3 million in scholarship support to 280 ELCA seminary students enrolled at the eight ELCA seminaries. Today, 38 Fund recipients are serving in congregations and other ministry settings.

The Fund is engaged in a three-year, million-dollar matching- gift challenge. The "Leadership Rising" challenge, announced in October 2007, was initiated after several donors pledged $1 million to match 50 percent of gifts given to the Fund for Leaders. The goal of the challenge is to double the Fund's endowment balance from $15 million to more than $30 million by 2010.

Paul Hanson said the MIF challenge gift will compliment the ongoing matching-gift challenge. "Members of the church will now have the option to financially support ordained and lay ministers either through the general Fund for Leaders scholarship program or to specifically support new mission developer pastors through the endowed MIF Mission Developer Scholarship," he said.

"Both opportunities remove the obstacles of seminary tuition debt. More than 70 percent of seminary graduates enter their first calls with $38,000 of education debt on average. It is crucial that we as a church address this issue together," Paul Hanson said. "We have found that Fund recipients graduate with one-third less debt than their classmates and are more able to accept calls in the types of congregations where others cannot afford to go," he said.


The home page of the ELCA Mission Investment Fund is at and information about the Fund for Leaders is at on the ELCA Web site.

For information contact:

John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or ELCA News Blog:

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