Since 1986 and for the past thirty-six years, Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cameron, South Carolina has supported the Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary and its students with an annual unrestricted scholarship. At a recent Sunday morning worship service, Reverend Jennifer Shimota, Coordinator of Seminary Enrollment at the Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary, received the scholarship funds for this year and informed the congregation as to how the scholarships were being used to assist students in attaining their educational goals and becoming pastors.
Resurrection Lutheran Church extended a first call to Lutheran Southern Seminary graduate Dave Hunter in 1984. Looking for ways that the church could support the much needed education and development of Pastors and other rostered church leaders, Reverend Hunter, having first hand knowledge of student needs as a recent graduate of the Seminary, suggested a scholarship to directly assist students. Resurrection Lutheran Church has made the scholarships a line item amount in its annual budget every year since then.
Are these scholarships fulfilling their purposes? Well, a few years ago Resurrection Lutheran Church member Heber Rast was serving as a South Carolina Synod voting member to the Church-wide Assembly in Chicago, Illinois. A young pastor in her first call approached the South Carolina Delegation and asked, “Isn’t there a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cameron in the South Carolina delegation”? Heber Rast identified himself as such. She told him that while a student at the Seminary she had been a recipient of the Resurrection Lutheran Church scholarship. She further said that had it not been for that scholarship provided by Resurrection Lutheran Church, she would have had to leave school and most probably not achieve her goal of becoming a Pastor. She just wanted to find someone from Resurrection Lutheran Church, tell them her story and, most of all, express appreciation and thanks for the opportunity to continue her studies at the Seminary and become a Pastor in the ELCA. While this may have been like the one of the ten healed by Jesus and alluded to in Luke 17: 11 – 19, we know and choose to believe that others, many of whom have also expressed thanks and appreciation, are spreading the Gospel as a result of this munificence. Resurrection Lutheran Church is honored and proud that this action was begun in 1986 and continues annually. With God’s continued blessings, we plan to continue this scholarship and support of seminary students.
While we may never know what impact our actions may have, God certainly does. Perhaps your church is looking for a specific and tangible way to support the education and development of future Pastors and rostered leaders in our Synod and the Church at large. Funding through a scholarship such as this may be an excellent course of action to consider.