Luther House of Study

A letter from Brian Aamlid, Congregation President

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Many of you are familiar with Luther House of Study. Dr. Chris Croghan and Sarah Stenson have been at First Lutheran a number of times presenting Lutheran education sessions. Their primary work is teaching and supporting Lutheran pastors as part of Sioux Falls Seminary and providing Lutheran education classes as part of their association with Augustana University. They also produce high quality Lutheran education videos that can be accessed electronically and are having world-wide impact. The Lutheran Leadership Foundation has been created to support the ministry and mission of Luther House. Their foundation is growing but, as of yet, can support only a portion of the Luther House program.

Some months ago, Dr. Croghan and Ms. Stenson approached First Lutheran with a request for support to help provide funding for more faculty resources to support Luther House of Study because of all their new students and the growing demand. Luther House has 22 new students entering their pastoral training program this fall (Luther Seminary is anticipating 30 students in their entering class). Luther House is becoming an important player in preparation of future Lutheran pastors for our area. Our own Jeff Backer is part of their program.

First Lutheran has a history and expectation of strong preaching and strong Lutheran education. The request from Luther House has been for $50,000 per year for five years. This would provide half the funds needed for additional Luther House staffing starting fall of 2018. It is anticipated that the remaining funds will be raised from other Lutheran congregations in the area, but it was felt that a leadership commitment was needed and they looked to us.

From the beginning there has been a strong feeling from pastoral staff, executive committee, and church council that we should do this and that we can do this. The question over the past months has been how exactly to do this. Many options have been considered and financial expertise of the First Lutheran Foundation has been engaged. The option that has been settled on at the church council level is this…First Lutheran Church will commit $50,000 for the first year for Luther House with further commitments subject to review each year for up to five years. The First Lutheran Church Foundation will provide a line of credit to First Lutheran Church in an amount sufficient to help make up the difference if funds are needed. Any funds drawn on this line of credit will need to be repaid to the FLC Foundation with interest. The congregation has an opportunity to contribute to the support of this cause to defray the need to draw on the line of credit. This commitment will require some special fund-raising effort each year. The First Lutheran Foundation regards the line of credit as part of its investment portfolio—this portion invested in First Lutheran and Lutheran education. If the special fund-raising efforts occur in a timely manner, First Lutheran may never need to draw from this line of credit, but the line of credit is in place if fund-raising requires additional time. My personal expectation is that people of First Lutheran have a heart for this Luther House/Lutheran education project and that yearly support over the next five years will come fairly readily. I am grateful to the First Lutheran Foundation for their thoughtful creativity and their support of this project. They have allowed First Lutheran to indicate to Luther House that we are on board; Luther House now is in a healthy place from which to launch the remainder of their fund-raising effort. I am grateful also to staff and lay leadership of First Lutheran for their honest and thoughtful contributions to the deliberations on this subject over the past months. I believe that the decision to support Luther House in their special request is reflective of our congregational emphasis on strong, sound Lutheran education. It is hoped that in five years the Lutheran Leadership Foundation will have grown to a level sufficient to provide necessary long-term financial support. If you feel a tug to support Luther House either through First Lutheran or through the Lutheran Leadership Foundation, let me or someone in the church office know and we can point you in the right direction. Thanks to all you amazing Lutherans. Look for updates on this project over the next five years.