On May 10, nearly 250 donors and students gathered for Blessings, an annual opportunity for scholarship donors of named endowed or named current scholarship funds, major contributors to the general scholarship fund, the students they support and merit scholarship recipients to gather together for dinner and a worship service.
"Blessings is an important event that allows donors the opportunity to meet the students whom they support as well as reconnect with old friends and forge new ones," said Lynne Mortazka, coordinator of donor relations. "It allows students and the seminary a chance to say thank you to the donors. It also gives donors a chance to thank the seminary for using their resources to train future leaders for the church."
This year's program included a message from scholarship donor Sandy Jerstad, who shared why she continues to give through scholarship support. Jerstad is a former Augustana College coach and state senator who compiled a book of sermons, "Letters of Love," written by her husband, Mark, a Luther Seminary alum. Mark Jerstad died of colon cancer at age 54. Through the Jerstad Family Foundation, Mark's wife and children choose to support organizations that make a difference in the world.
Sandy quoted from the book: "Every day every one of us has a chance to make a difference. God wants us to use our lives, which are being daily resurrected in loving service of each other."
She explained, "What better way to make a difference than to help support the learning process of a student studying to go into the ministry, where that person will preach the gospel, comfort the sick and dying, get kids fired up about God and breathe life into the expression of faith in a congregation. Our decision to fund scholarships at Luther comes from our desire to honor Mark, who studied and worked at the seminary and loved his time there, and to renew and build the church through educating ministers for its future."
Britta Meiers, an M.Div. middler, offered prayer at dinner. Culynn Curtis, an M.Div. middler, offered thanks on behalf of the students during the program.
"You understand what is the breadth, the length, the height and the depth of what is God's love for the world. You answered the call to provide and made it possible for me to answer the call to ministry. You gave what you could, both prayers and monetary gifts, and because of this together you and I are serving the world," said Curtis. "So to you, on behalf of students just like me, receive this word that comes from the bottom of our hearts and is lived out in word and deed for the sake of the gospel. Thank you and thanks be to God for you."
Donors and students concluded their time together with worship led by Mark Sedio, Luther Seminary emeritus organist, and Luther Seminary students Martha Schwehn, M.Div. middler; Sarah Bane, M.A. junior; and Daniel Rinehart, M.Div. junior.
"We intentionally end with worship every year," Moratzka said. "The future of the church depends on our worship life together."
Photos of this year's event are available at www.flickr.com/photos/lutherseminary. Choose Sets, and then choose 2012 Blessings.
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