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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Seminaries face tough economy

Facing challenges related to economic downturn, the eight ELCA seminary presidents signed a Nov. 21 statement appealing to ELCA members for their “understanding, support and continuing strong commitment.”

“Recent economic downturns have affected fundraising .... In addition, as endowment value declines, there is less ability to rely on long-term income-generating sources,” the seminary presidents wrote (see also "Wartburg Seminary to restructure"). Additionally, schools carrying “debt incurred in addressing major deferred maintenance and other capital projects are experiencing especially high stress levels,” the statement says.

The presidents say the schools will “seek to realize additional economic savings through seminary clustering and other strategic alliances with all willing partners.”

Thanking supporters for their “strong stewardship response,” the presidents said: “Now more than ever your generous gifts are critical for us to fulfill God’s call and the ELCA’s mandate of preparing mission leaders for the church.”

In a separate open letter on Oct. 31, the ELCA seminary deans committed themselves to even more collaboration.

“Whether facing retrenchment, hiring freezes or scores of other less radical ways to ‘tighten our belts,’ we know—whatever our place on the spectrum of today’s economic hardships—that there is a great mission to which God calls,” they wrote. “We want to find ways forward that do not jeopardize vital educational ministries at a time they are so greatly needed.”


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