Listen! God is Calling
A campaign for the future of the church
Full Campaign Video
Thank You Video
Luther Seminary is committed to making theological education affordable and accessible so that pastors and other church leaders can lead thriving faith communities. Luther Seminary alumni who graduate without student loan debt are free to follow their calling without financial barriers to ministry.
Luther Seminary makes bold, innovative changes to form Christian communities. The world has shifted dramatically and is in a period of heightened global disruption. Like many before us, Luther Seminary is called to watch for what God is doing in the midst of the disruption and to discover how we are being called to cultivate the new life God is bringing forth.
The Sustaining Fund advances the
mission of Luther Seminary to educate
leaders for Christian communities called
and sent by the Holy Spirit to witness to
salvation through Jesus Christ and to
serve in God’s world.
Due to enrollment, retention, and retirements in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1,000 congregations that can afford a full-time pastor do not have one. Support for the Sustaining Fund will help us reverse this trend.
Listen! God is Calling
A Campaign for the Future of the Church.
Luther Seminary campaign priorities to support a thriving church:
The Holy Spirit calls Luther Seminary to lead faithful innovation for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a rapidly changing world.
Margaret 'Marge' Hegge
Luther Seminary has been a part of Margaret “Marge” Hegge’s life since the year she was born, when her father used the G.I. Bill to enroll. In 2012, the family created a named scholarship in honor of their parents: the Rev. Irvin Junis Lovseth and Harriet Lovseth Scholarship, which funds a student’s tuition every year.
“I remember [my father] talking about how profound his teachers were, and I’ve felt called to be part of this place to honor him and support the evolution of our denomination,” says Marge, who is chair of the Luther Seminary Board of Directors.
In addition to establishing the named scholarship with family members, Marge is a vocal champion of the Jubilee Scholarship, calling it “a top priority in my personal and professional life.” It’s important to her to remove the financial barriers that prevent people from pursuing a calling in ministry.
Marge is enthusiastic about the innovative spirit of the seminary’s leadership, despite the risks involved in tackling things that have never been done before. “They have moved faithfully ahead to where the Spirit is leading, and that is powerful,” she says.
Jim and Anne Eidsvold
For many years, Jim and Anne Eidsvold gave modestly to Luther Seminary. Anne’s father, Kermit Graves, was a 1942 Luther graduate, and Jim’s grandfather was a Lutheran pastor. The Eidsvolds said they believe in Luther’s mission.
In September 2019, they met with Luther Seminary President Robin Steinke and Dwight Zscheile ’08 Ph.D., vice president of Innovation, to learn about the seminary’sListen! God is Calling campaign. “Our hearts were stirred,” Anne said, as they learned about the campaign’s three priorities: the Jubilee Scholarship, innovation, and the Sustaining Fund.
After the meeting, the Eidsvolds pledged a major gift to support the campaign’s $30 million investment in bold, innovative work to form Christian communities that are relevant and responsive in an ever-changing, global world. An example of that work is the Faith+Lead online community, Luther’s digital hub for church leaders. Since its 2018 launch, the site has welcomed 380,000 unique visitors and nearly 20,000 participants in at least one paid course, event, or workshop.
“The meeting was an ah-ha moment for me,” Anne said. “We could see the seminary is developing new ways to reach and connect with people in meaningful ways. They demonstrated to us that they are being innovative while also being practical.”
“It’s not every day we make a gift like this,” Jim added, “but we felt so good about its potential. Luther is a thoughtful steward of donors’ investments. Look at all they’ve already done related to innovation. We can’t wait to see how they continue to build on that work, fueled by our gift and the generosity of others.”
The Eidsvolds said they want to invest in the future of the church because they want others to experience the joy, hope, and purpose they have found in their faith community. As newlyweds, the two taught Sunday School together, and Anne directed a youth church choir for 40 years. The two have served on many committees at Lutheran congregations in Alexandria and Morris, Minnesota.
“Church has always been a happy place for us,” Anne said. “A place of warmth and learning about God and Jesus with good friends and people who care about you. We want others to experience that comfort and community of faith, but we know the world has changed, and people want and need different things out of the church.”
“Luther has proven it is the best place to invest in the inspiring work of imagining and supporting the church of the future,” added Jim, a third-generation owner and manager of Henry’s Foods in Alexandria, Minnesota. “We are proud and excited to contribute to this vital work to imagine a faith-filled future for our world.”
Donald Bottemiller believes that Luther Seminary’s dedication to innovation is crucial if the church is to continue to thrive in the 21st century.
“I grew up in rural Minnesota with three television channels and no Internet. Church was a social hub without much competition” says the 82-year-old lifelong Lutheran. “These days, we need to graduate pastors who can come up with creative and engaging ways to lift people’s faces up from their phones and remind people of the need for community and hope.”
Don, who has no family ties to Luther, is not only a donor but an advocate for the seminary, meeting regularly with donors to talk about its strategy and initiatives. An innovator himself—he is a retired business leader with several patents to his name—he served on the seminary’s Board of Directors from 2006 to 2018.
John Wright and Joyce Thompsen, Ph.D.
Luther Seminary is in the leadership business, and that is exactly what attracted Dr. Joyce Thompsen. Joyce’s professional vocation has been all about developing leaders so they can manage organizations and make decisions well.
Active in her church, she had been investing in Luther’s mission for some years when she met John. She says, “I was actively asking the Holy Spirit for a personal companion who shared my faith…and also my strong passion for wanting to do something meaningful to help spread the Gospel. I was looking for the most efficient and effective way to do that…and it became very clear that Luther Seminary was in the best position to be able to provide that point of leverage.” John agreed!
In their support of Luther Seminary, Joyce and John combine their professional and personal passions. Because of Joyce’s years on Luther’s Board, including a term as Chair, they have seen the mission from the inside, “under the hood,” as Joyce says. That has only inspired them more.
Joyce and John have been listening and they have heard God’s call. They intend to extend their commitment to Luther’s mission well into the future.
Their gift is a personal stretch, a stretch that matches their commitment to a healthy church, both near- and long-term. They say, “We’re looking for a Return on Holy Investment (ROHI) and we continue to be very convinced that Luther is the right place to invest for the future of the church.”
Paul and Ruth Hauge
Paul and Ruth Hauge care deeply about good pastoring. They have long been blessed by skilled and compassionate pastors in their home congregation. They watched their urban congregation double in size over the years, clearly thriving. “[Our visionary pastor] had a great deal of help with the other pastors, and I think the congregation really stepped up too,” said Paul.
They watch for young congregational members who might have the gifts and instincts for pastoral ministry and they encourage them, for the sake of the church’s future. Ruth said, “There’s a young adult at church that I’ve been talking with. I’ve been telling him he needs to become a pastor, and I think he is thinking about it.” They understand how important good leadership is, and that it doesn’t just happen!
The Hauges not only encourage future leaders, they have long supported Luther Seminary, where many of the church’s future leaders are formed. They grew up in families that talked about the importance of seminaries for the health of the church and took that to heart and to their finances.
They are impressed with Luther Seminary’s leadership, even more so after witnessing Luther’s nimble response to the pandemic. They celebrate that students continue to make their way through the degree process and move on to serve faith communities for years to come. They are grateful to have the opportunity to give to this mission. It’s God’s call to them, and they are following!
Ladd Bjorneby '85 M.Div.
In 30 years of parish ministry, Ladd Bjorneby watched change happen right before his eyes, in the world and in the church. Where once the church’s focus was rightly on those in the pews, he sees a changed calling now. “I think we all realize now we can’t take any of [the church’s] existing structure for granted, and if we’re going to have a future, we have to broaden our understanding of who we’re bringing the gospel to…we need to ask, ‘Do we have good news for everyone around us?’”
Rev. Bjorneby is a Luther Seminary alumnus, and has served on Luther Seminary’s board now for a number of years. He is seeing Luther Seminary from another perspective, different from his student days. This lens has a long view focused on the vitality of faith communities called to speak the gospel into a world that needs it. From here, he sees how all the layers of Luther’s community—students, staff, faculty, administration, and board—are pulling together to innovate into that future, so the gospel can be heard in a world that has changed.
How? By preparing and educating leaders who can nurture and inspire others to bring good news into their own contexts. Rev. Bjorneby supports Luther Seminary’s mission because he believes that Luther Seminary is willing to ask hard questions, experiment, and learn.
He is inspired by the teaching and the learning that happens at Luther. This was true when he was a student, and it’s true today. Because of this, he trusts seminary leadership to steward his financial support toward that end. “I want my giving to support the mission,” he said. “I trust the leadership to say, ‘This is what we need to be doing,’ and I want to fund that. My personal preferences are less important. I give to the Sustaining Fund.”
Ladd reflects, “Luther Seminary has always been about the gospel, all about getting the gospel to the ears of people who need to hear it. Throughout all the years and all the changes, that’s remained. So, through my giving, I’m participating in that. I am a part of that mission.”
Message from President Robin Steinke
Luther Seminary educates leaders for Christian communities called and sent by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit calls Luther Seminary to lead faithful innovation for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a rapidly changing world.
I am excited to announce that we have exceeded the fundraising goal for the Listen! God is Calling campaign, for the future of the church. More than 15,000 faithful investors have given over $98 million, since July 1, 2016. Thank you for your generosity and support!
Because of your trust and benevolence:
- Student debt has decreased by 61% in our enrolled and graduated student population.
- 52% of students graduated in 2022 with no student debt, (including previous undergraduate debt), and
- 406 full-tuition Jubilee Scholarships have been awarded,
In addition, our digital offerings with quality theological content for everyday disciples and Christian leaders have expanded substantially, including:
- 20,000 people now use the updated Enter the Bible site monthly,
- 123,000 users have visited Faith+Lead in the past year,
- 20,000+ daily God Pause users receive daily devotions,
- 13,000 church leaders are enrolled in the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, our private social network for members learn and connect, and
- 3.6 million people (including 365,000 Spanish-language users) have visited the Working Preacher site in the past year.
The MDivX pilot — which offered an accelerated two-year MDiv degree — proved a success! Your support empowered us to conduct this holy experiment to help the church reimagine theological education in a time of tremendous change. The program:
- demonstrated the importance of a cohort-based degree program,
- reimagined the role of internship in the leadership formation of our students,
- accelerated the education of more church leaders in a shorter period of time, for less cost, and
- proved that there are an abundance of future church leaders who will respond to God’s call when the financial barriers are removed.
Throughout the MDivX pilot, we have studied its effectiveness and remain connected with these church leaders to assess their paths and preparedness. Stay tuned for news about how we intend to incorporate those learnings into our regular MDiv academic program.
Your support fuels our innovation and agility, including our transition to 100% virtual classroom attendance within 24 hours at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person community and learning has returned, but in new and different forms we never imagined when this campaign began. But because of your investment, we were prepared and continue to be prepared to meet the challenges of our world. Luther Seminary emerged from this pandemic financially strong and with a growing interest in our degree programs. Nearly 600 students have graduated since May 2018, with a 91% retention rate.
It is our goal to meet the needs of the faith communities we serve as they work to form Christian identity and practice with their members, and the children and neighbors in the communities they are called to serve.
You make this work possible.
Thank you for walking alongside us in our shared mission to educate leaders for Christian communities.
Dean and Rosemarie Buntrock
$5MM - $9.99MM
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
$1MM - $2.499MM
Ardean and Coke † Aafedt
Vae Jean Doris Buehler †
John and Sharon Haugo
Rev. Mark and Mrs. Kathleen Helge
Lyle and Barbara Sall
$500K - $999K
Rev. Josef P. Aalbue and Mrs. Sally A. Schlachtenhaufen
Rev. Ladd Bjorneby
ELCA Endowment Fund
Rick and Nancy Foss
Christopher Hagen and Ann Brearley
Ronald and Margaret Hegge
John Templeton Foundation
David Johnson and Janet Hovey Johnson
Rev. Janet Karvonen-Montgomery and Dr. Alan Montgomery
Ron and Karen Offutt
Robert L. Quam †
Peter A. and Bonnie Raquet
Esther V. Schroeder
Patricia and William Westphal
$250K - $499K
Janet and Brad Anderson
Thomas and Judith Beckmen
Dale E. Benson
Roger and Susan Eggen
Norman and Evangeline Hagfors
James A. † and Elaine † Halls
Hamilton and Mildred Kellogg Charitable Trust
David and Andrea Hayes
Ken † and Becky † Heideman
R. Douglas and Sally Larsen
Dennis and Shirley Larson
Betty A. McNeely
Minneapolis Area Synod
Nora Marie Nelson †
Northwestern Minnesota Synod
Glen † and Inez † Oehlke
Mrs. Irene L. Olson †
Karin M. Peterson †
Saint Paul Area Synod
Allan and Mary Severson
Siebert Lutheran Foundation, Inc.
South Dakota Synod
Southwestern Minnesota Synod
Joyce A. Thompsen and John R. Wright, Jr.
Thrivent Charitable Impact and Investing
Trinity Church Wall Street
$100K - $249.9K
Lois E. Arnevik †
Astrup Family Foundation
Corrine Astrup †
Edwin C. † and Beatrice † Astrup
Charles and Linda Axness
Nora Odella Baak †
Kenneth H. † and Margaret Beenken
James A. † and Lorraine G. † Bergquist
Gus and Mary Blanchard
Don Bottemiller and Rochelle Reed †
Ronald and Rebecca Brakke
Kathleen and Dennis Brekken
Rev. Merle and Mrs. Elizabeth Brockhoff
Buschbom Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation
June S. † and H. Mead † Cavert
Church of the Pioneers Foundation
Norman † and Kathy Dean
Desert Hills Lutheran Church Foundation
Eastern North Dakota Synod
Rev. Bradley P. Edin
Jerry A. Evenrud †
Charles L. and Diane Frickey
James † and Barbara Griffin
Hoover T. † and Shirley A. † Grimsby
Dean and Pamela Gruner
Dale and Glenice Hansen
Paul and Ruth Hauge
Thomas L. and Kristin H. Holtz
Laurence and Janet Hughes
Diane and Paul Jacobson
Dr. Kathryn L. Johnson
Jack W. † and Karen V. † Kelly
Roald A. † and Shirley L. † Kindem
Thomas M. and Cathy P. Kosobayashi
Paul † and Janet Labes
Carl and Aune Lind Family Foundation
Dennis and Jeanne Lind
Timothy I. and Janice K. Maudlin
Rev. Richard N. Nelson
Northwest Washington Synod
Martin † and Virginia † Nygaard
H. Erling Ofsdahl †
Olga B. Hart Education Foundation
Gerald and Lois † Olsen
Mabel E. Olsgaard †
Charles B. and Sharon Olson
Nancie C. Paulson †
Noel R. and Ann M. Peterson
Idamae † and James † Schack
John V. Schleif
Doris Slaaten †
Arne † and Ruth Sorenson
Southeastern Minnesota Synod
Deb and Lowell Stortz
Pearl † and Lynn † Swenson
Hazel and Charles Tanger
Rev. James and Mrs. Gloria Thvedt
O. Jay and Patricia Tomson
Norman W. and Kathryn J. Wahl
Western North Dakota Synod
Larry R. Wefring †
$50K - $99.9K
Melvin F. † and Laurinda † Alms
Paul and Marion † Bentson
Rev. Alvin and Mrs. Phoebe Bergh
Sarah and J. Ben Buck
Lois Burmeister †
Richard † and Elaine † Donaldson
Clayton † and Ellen Bagg † Egenes
James and Anne Eidsvold
Richard † and Evelyn † Elton
Craig and Gail Endicott
Jerry M. and Lynda T. † Engelhardt
June V. Erickson †
Woody and Betty Erickson
Noel and Judy Fedje
Loren Forrester †
Frederick J. Gaiser and Barbara A. Gaiser
Richard and Barbara Gunderson
Edwin † and Noriyo † Hawxhurst
Lore M. Heidel-Lageson †
Maren and Thomas Hood
Howard † and Eunice † Hovland
Steven and Cynthia Huseth
Frederik R. and Dawn E. Jensen
Ruth C. Johnson †
Norman and Eunice † Jones
Lois Kammerlohr †
John † and Carol Kelly
K. Duane and Mabel M. † Larson
Phyllis T. Larson †
Lillehei Family Charitable Foundation
Troy and Deanna Loken
Lowell and Joan † Luhman
Mona Lund †
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
John and Karen Meslow
Rev. Dr. John and Mrs. Muriel Mikkelson †
Walter and Virginia Moore
Rudy and Marilyn Nef
Rob and Rebecca Nesse
North Emanuel Lutheran Church
Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Robert M. † and Lila M. Olson
Howard and Carol Oppegard
Jean M. Peterson
Jeannine Rivet and Warren Herreid
Duane and Phyllis † Sander
Edward and Charlotte Schilke
Ronald and Connie Schwartau
Roger W. and B. Jeanne † Schwarze
Margaret Sigmond †
Katherine Mueller Smith †
Dale Alan Sorenson
Dorothy † and Morris A. † Sorenson, Jr.
Robert S. † and Jean M. Spong
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Bellingham, WA
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, IA
KC and Georgia Stock
Lee and Louise Sundet
Leslie and Carolyn Svendsen
Roger and Linda Swing
Mark and Claudia Thompson
David and Muffy Tiede
Ardelle and Robert Torkelson
Richard Tressel †
Rebecca and Thomas von Fischer
Willard and Grace S. Wagner
Renata Winsor †
covers tuition costs for all newly admitted Master of Arts and Master of Divinity students at Luther Seminary.
Educating leaders for Christian communities
Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as
he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and
the birds came and ate it up. Other seed
fell on rocky ground, where it did not have
much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it
had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose,
it was scorched, and since it had no root, it
withered away. Other seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew up and choked it, and
it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good
soil and brought forth grain, growing up and
increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and
Then Jesus said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"
Rick Foss ’71 M.Div., ’84 Th.M.
David Tiede ’66 B.Div.