The Power of Support

Headshots of 2023 Fund for Leaders recipients. From left to right: Madelyn Anderson, Leah Berdahl, Hannah Peterson, and Addy Stuever.

ELCA scholarships fuel success of LSTC Fund for Leaders recipients

Financial support plays a crucial role in prospective students’ ability to follow through on their call and pursue a career in ministry and service. This is especially true for the inspiring scholars who are embarking on the first year of their MDiv programs at LSTC in academic year 2023-2024. 

These students are supported by the ELCA’s Fund For Leaders program, which offers full-tuition scholarships to support students attending ELCA seminaries who intend on becoming a rostered minister of either word and sacrament or word and service. The program also serves as an important way for participants to build community and engage in mentorship. As Senior Director of Major Gifts for Lutheran World relief and LSTC Board of Directors member DeWayne A. Cook notes, “The Fund for Leaders (FFL) has had a transformative impact on the experience of MDiv students, creating invaluable opportunities for growth, connection, and investment in their learning journey…[Furthermore, FFL] students engage in a letter exchange with their donors every six months for four years, allowing them to develop a profound connection over time. This process fosters understanding of each other’s values and provides a platform for sharing personal growth and learning experiences.”

Four remarkable recipients of the 2023-2024 scholarship, Addy Stuever, Hannah Peterson, Leah Berdahl, and Madelyn Anderson, exemplify the transformative impact of donor support in their pursuit of ministry and justice. With their unique backgrounds and passions, they highlight the importance of financial and community support, especially the support of the ELCA, in shaping their success at LSTC.

These scholars exemplify the promise of tomorrow’s leaders in the ELCA: leaders who embrace cross-generational experiences, fight for social justice, choose compassion, and act to bring members of their communities together in joyful association for a more just world. The success of these students will better not only their future congregations and those who they reach through their ministry, but also the ELCA at large. As Cook says, “The FFL has made a remarkable difference to the future of the ELCA. It has connected MDiv students with Churchwide leaders, fostered relationships between students and donors, influenced the values and engagement of future leaders within the ELCA, and provided financial support that enables students to fully invest in their learning journey.”

Addy Stuever: Empowering Rural Communities through Ministry

Headshot of Addy Stuever

For Addy Stuever, the path to ministry was influenced by her deep-rooted passion for justice. 

Despite considering a career in politics, she realized that she wanted to continue learning and engage with communities directly through a career in ministry. After some research, it became clear that LSTC, a seminary that aligned with her justice-oriented values, was the perfect fit. 

With the support of her family and the guidance of her great aunt Joan, who introduced her to the ELCA Fund for Leaders program, Stuever was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend LSTC. This support enabled her to begin seminary immediately after completing her undergraduate studies and pursue her vision of being a rural pastor, building centers that serve as hubs for all members of the community.

“When I told my aunt I was applying to seminary, she said, ‘There’s probably a lot of scholarships available. I just donated to the Fund for Leaders. You should definitely check it out.’”

Addy Stuever

Leah Berdahl: Nurturing Cross-Generational Ministry

Incoming MDiv student Leah Berdahl making a fire

Leah Berdahl’s journey towards a career in ministry began through her work at Shetek
Lutheran Ministries. 

Witnessing the power of cross-generational ministry and community building, Berdahl discovered her calling to merge leadership skills, vocation, and faith in ministry. LSTC’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice resonated with her, as did the welcoming and compassionate nature of the LSTC community. Overcoming initial concerns about being a young, queer, and female voice in ministry, Berdahl found support from her synod Bishop and received the ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship. 

This financial and community support empowers Berdahl to pursue her passion for campus ministry and become a guiding presence for others. 

Madelyn Anderson: Embracing the Call for Inclusive Ministry

Headshot of Madelyn Anderson

For Madelyn Anderson, the path to LSTC was one of discovery and growth. Raised in a tradition that didn’t ordain women, Anderson’s outlook changed when she encountered a female pastor at a retreat. This experience opened her eyes to new possibilities and led her to explore ELCA Lutheranism. 

At LSTC, Anderson found a community that shared her vision of LGBTQIA+ inclusion and justice. The ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship, which she learned about from fellow students, provided her with the financial means to pursue her passion wholeheartedly. This support, to Anderson, signifies that she is not alone on her journey and that the ELCA stands behind her, enabling her to focus on her studies and make a difference in her community.

“The more I reflect on the scholarship, the more I think how it signals that I have the support of the church behind me and that I’m not alone in this. It shows that the ELCA cares, and the Fund for Leaders alumni care, and I am held ultimately by this beautiful community.”

Madelyn Anderson

Hannah Peterson: Finding God in Unexpected Places

Headshot of Hannah Peterson

Hannah Peterson’s journey to LSTC started with a career in the military. During her time in the Army, she discovered the importance of faith and experienced her call to ministry. Peterson’s experiences during a tour of duty in Korea where she witnessed both loneliness and the widespread need for a supportive faith-based community, solidified her decision to pursue ministry upon the completion of her service. 

LSTC, with its justice-oriented academic offerings and the opportunity for distance learning, offered her the ideal platform to combine her passion for ministry with her desire to make a positive impact. The ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship provided Peterson with the financial freedom to pursue her MDiv degree and the necessary support for her to work towards becoming a compassionate campus minister.

You Can Be Part of Direct Student Support

While ELCA support is crucial to the success of students at LSTC, the Fund for Leaders scholarship provides only for tuition; not housing or living expenses. LSTC also offers direct support for students attending our seminary through the Visionary Scholarship Fund, a core institutional program that provides support for additional related academic expenses; the new Emerging Leaders Fund, which puts donor dollars directly to use to support tuition and related expenses for students of color and for students from historically underrepresented communities; and the Advanced Studies Global Leaders Fund, which holistically supports PhD students. To make a gift in support of LSTC students please email advancement@lstc.edu or visit lstc.edu/giving/scholarships.

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