Many of you have walked with us for the past ten years. Thank you for all your prayers and financial gifts. You have made the Institute of Lutheran Theology possible! There has never been an independent Lutheran seminary and graduate school in North America, and certainly not a school as large as your Institute of Lutheran Theology. Your generosity birthed us!
I won’t sugarcoat the present situation: It is grave. There are not nearly enough Lutheran pastors to fill Lutheran pulpits, and the situation is getting worse. Moreover, many now serving Lutheran churches seem to believe Niebuhr’s trenchant phrase: A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
But at ILT we believe that humans are sinful, that God is both wrath and love, that God’s kingdom is other than our utopias, and that salvation is through the Cross of Christ. We teach these things to our students and instruct them how to proclaim passionately and clearly the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. We believe that being called to be a preacher and teacher of Christ Jesus is very serious business indeed, and that to serve God profoundly is the highest calling any of us could have.
ILT is growing. We should have over 105 students studying in our graduate programs this fall, with total enrollments of 135 or more. We have been accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) already for five years, and recently were awarded our first ten-year accreditation. Our seminary and graduate school – the Christ School of Theology – will submit its first comprehensive self-study for the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accreditation this fall.
While our students flock to us from mostly Lutheran church bodies, we are getting increasing numbers coming from other traditions as well. What unites our students is a conviction that God exists, that God causes creation and redemption to be, that our world is losing its transcendent moorings and moral compass, and that God in Christ can reconcile even this very fallen world unto Himself. There is no more exciting time to be a preacher and teacher of the Risen Lord! God continues to do great things today!
There are so many ILT students that I could tell you about. They are extraordinarily committed! As our students become effective teachers and preachers of the Word through their studies with us, so many lives are being changed. When you invest financially in ILT, you change lives not only now, but in generations to come, for teachers teach and preachers preach to one generation who teach and preach to the next. How many future people will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be grasped by the Holy Spirit because of what we do today? How many lives will be saved? This is serious business indeed. But our students cannot possibly pay for the quality education they are receiving. Whether it be through financial aid, student scholarships, or supporting general operations, your financial gifts make it possible for faithful, courageous, and competent students to become pastors, teachers and professors of Christ and Him crucified. You are our partners and are therefore as important as ILT faculty and staff in producing the next generations of faithful Lutheran pastors and teachers.
We have secured a fiscal year-end gift of $25,000 if we can raise $75,000 by the end of June. Can you help us achieve this $100,000 June goal? All we can do is announce to you our need and wait for the Spirit to do the rest. He (and you) has always given us what is needed. If three of you gave $10,000, five gave $5,000, and twenty gave $1,000, we would have the $75,000! Know, however, that we appreciate any gift of any size! Maybe we can do better than $100,000, for our God is a God of surplus.
Dr. Dennis Bielfeldt, President
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