Concordia Seminary, St. Louis has been selected to receive a grant of $150,000 to assist in the process of identifying, informing and encouraging high school youth toward service in church work careers. The grant is from Lilly Endowment Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. and will be dispersed over a three-year period.
The grant will make possible a number of efforts, most notably an annual Exploring Church Careers Event (ECCE) on the Seminary campus. The first ECCE will take place August 7-9, 1999. This three-day gathering will include Bible study, presentations by recognized leaders in youth ministry, and on-site visitation opportunities featuring a wide variety of church career professionals. “We want youth who attend the ECCE to see the many ways God can use the gifts He has given them to serve Him in a church work career,” said Rev. Glen Thomas, vice president for seminary relations at Concordia Seminary. “Our goal is to have them leave this event informed and excited about the prospect of serving their Lord in these special capacities.”
There will be opportunity for pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education, and others in the church to nominate gifted youth to attend the annual ECCE. Registration and nomination materials will be available from Concordia Seminary in early 1999.
“This grant will allow us to address the declining numbers of students who are preparing to serve as pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education, and other church career positions,” said Thomas. “Everyone who has watched the shortages in these vocations increase over recent years is alarmed. We look forward to joining with the Church in this bold new initiative to address this alarming trend and reverse it.”
Other efforts, in conjunction with the ECCE, will include mailings to high school youth, pastors, teachers, and Lutheran high school principals. These efforts will serve to identify high school age youth who are potential church career professionals. The ECCE will involve 120 of these youth each year and will serve as the major catalyst to inform and encourage them toward service in a church work career. “Follow-up mailings to the youth will continue to inform and encourage them toward a church career long after the ECCE has ended,” said Thomas.
Concordia Seminary has been working with Rev. Terry Dittmer, associate director of the Department of Youth Ministry (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod) in designing the overall effort. Rev. Darrell Zimmerman, pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Brentwood, Mo. and a recognized leader in youth ministry, is also involved in the program.
“We also look forward to working with our Concordia University System schools in providing helpful information to youth concerning the programs of preparation for these various careers,” added Thomas. “In addition, we will be communicating with those in positions of spiritual leadership throughout the Church to assist in identifying youth who are gifted for such service and encouraging them in this direction.”
Lilly Endowment’s “Theological Programs for High School Youth” grants program is designed to challenge schools to find ways through which a new generation of youth can be informed and encouraged for future service in the church. “Our aim in this program is to provide major support to those theological schools that can successfully find and develop a new generation of talented young Christians,” said Craig Dykstra, vice president for religion at Lilly.
For additional information, contact:
Rev. Glen D. Thomas
Vice President for Seminary Relations
801 DeMun Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63105