Seminaries, World Mission provide funds for scholarships

The sagging economy has stalled a scholarship program for Lutheran international students studying in graduate programs at Lutheran higher education campuses around the world, including the two Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) seminaries.crisp.gif

But the seminaries and LCMS World Mission have raised enough funds to enable most of the 17 affected students to complete their degrees.

Members of the Committee Responsible for International Scholarship Programs (CRISP), an LCMS oversight group, learned late last month that the funding, which comes solely from interest on a $2 million endowment grant, is exhausted. The grant was created by the LCMS “Forward in Remembrance” campaign of the early 1980s.

At Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, funding from the seminaries and the mission board will enable three students to complete their degrees by the end of the spring term, another to continue his work on campus until the end of the summer term, and three more to work on research and dissertation writing in their home countries.

At Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the funding will be used to help two students complete their degrees in the spring term, another student to remain on campus, and six additional students to return to campus from time to time to fulfill degree requirements.  One student in Korea will temporarily suspend his program.

The CRISP program serves international students referred from LCMS partner churches and missions who are seeking advanced theological degrees.  Its scholarships provide tuition and cover living and travel expenses.  Graduates historically have returned to their home countries’ Lutheran churches, where they typically serve as seminary professors or theological educators, or in church leadership positions. 

Since its formation in 1985, CRISP has provided $4.5 million to train 153 leaders from 31 countries.  Due to the cyclical nature of financial markets, the amount of money available for scholarships varies from year to year.

“One of the most important contributions the Missouri Synod can make to world Lutheranism is advanced theological education,” noted Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, LCMS director of church relations, assistant to the LCMS president, and chair of the CRISP committee.  “We are thankful for the foresight of our Synod’s leaders who created the CRISP fund a quarter century ago.

“However, in a world where the needs are even greater, we need to expand and enhance this program,” Nafzger continued.  “The CRISP endowment needs to be increased so that it is able to support increasing costs of graduate study, and meet the growing number of requests from our partner churches for assistance in training new generations of leaders.”

For more information about the CRISP program, contact Nafzger at 800-248-1930 or samuel.nafzger@lcms.org.

Posted Dec. 4, 2008

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