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ELCA Offers Scholarships as Part of New Leadership Initiative

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In November 2016, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), introduced a new leadership initiative for the church. According to the ELCA’s website, the purpose of this initiative is to seek out and encourage promising young people to join the ranks of the church’s ministry. This search for future leaders includes full-ride scholarships for ELCA seminaries.

Over the next several years, the ELCA’s Fund for Leaders will be granting 60 additional full-tuition scholarships for the church’s first-year seminary students, 20 of which will be awarded to students starting during the 2017 to 2018 academic year. These scholarships will be funded by a $3 million anonymous gift that was made to the Fund for Leaders last year. “I think this increased number of seminary scholarships will be helpful to prospective ELCA seminary students so they won’t have to worry about the financial burden of attending,” said Pastor Kara Baylor, Carthage Campus Pastor.

According to a column Bishop Eaton wrote for the ELCA’s publication Living Lutheran, the goal of the scholarship and Leadership Initiative in general is for the church to gain, “well-trained confessional, scriptural, theological, liturgical, compassionate pastors and deacons: to keep [humanity] pointed to Jesus, to the law, to the cross, [and] to the resurrection.” She believes the church needs leaders like this to guide people who forget about Jesus and believe that salvation is solely based on their own works.

Applications for this year’s scholarships will be due online no later than Feb. 28. To be considered, applicants must have been admitted as a first-year student to an ELCA seminary and provide their admission letter as proof. Requirements include an essay describing the applicant’s faith journey and the factors that led to his/her decision to become a minister, as well as a video essay where the applicant explains his/her definition of leadership and how his/her leadership skills can help the ELCA’s mission.

The applications will be reviewed by a committee of 10 to 12 people from various organizations within the ELCA. These reviewers will “not necessarily be looking for students with high GPA’s, but students who are passionate about Jesus Christ, spiritually grounded, get along with other churches, and be committed to leading both the current and future world,” said Candice Buchbinder, Public Relations Manager for the ELCA.

But these 20 scholarships are not the only ones the ELCA has available. After they are awarded on March 31, each of the ELCA’s eight seminaries will be able to select some of their other incoming students to receive additional full-tuition scholarships.

For more information, visit www.elca.org

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