“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
2020 was a year in which the world changed dramatically. Like many before us, we’ve been called to watch for what God is doing in the midst of disruption. It’s hard to be sure what will emerge on the other side.
Yet even with so much uncertainty swirling around us, God is faithful, and God is making a way.
As we embark on the third year of our Jubilee Scholarship, which provides all incoming Master of Divinity and Master of Arts students a full-tuition scholarship, we’re seeing dramatic decreases in student borrowing and indebtedness. In fact, 55% of the class of 2020 graduated with no educational debt whatsoever, student loan applications fell again this year by 20%, and we are now in the ninth consecutive year of decline among the number of Luther Seminary students taking out student loans. This means our graduates are not only theologically prepared, but they are also financially prepared to lead innovative ministries.
Our digital efforts have expanded our reach across the globe. Across all our digital properties since 2018, including Working Preacher, Faith+Lead, God Pause, and Enter the Bible, we have created new content formats, including podcasts, digital courses, virtual conferences, online magazines, and email newsletters. We served 6.8 million unique users in more than 50 countries; developed a subscriber base of more than 50,000; provided just-in-time training to 17,500 leaders; engaged 6,200 users in a private social network focused on faithful innovation; and formed partnerships with nearly 1,000 lay and ordained leaders in intensive, multi-month learning communities.
Our admissions team has also reported increased inquiries and enrollments. In 2019–20, we welcomed an incoming class of 153 students (and had a waiting list of qualified candidates)—including the first cohort of our MDivX pilot, which delivers our full Master of Divinity curriculum in 24 consecutive months.
I am pleased to report that Luther Seminary remains in a financially stable position so that we can continue to educate leaders for Christian communities and innovate faithfully for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even during this period of pandemic-caused economic decline, we’ve been able to build on the momentum of previous years’ successes. Our net income was $15,768,975 compared to a total cash expense of $15,581,048 (excluding depreciation). This represented a better-than-projected outcome by $200,000. In addition, we improved our cash position by $1.6 million. [View the annual report financials and quick facts.]
As we move into where God is calling us next, I pray for the health, safety, and sustained well-being of your families, congregations, and communities. May God bless you now and well into the future as together we draw strength in God’s promise that “the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:11).
Peace and strength,
Robin J. Steinke