by Tracy Behrendt, Correspondent
For years, Beth Krolak was certain of her path as a Christian school teacher. But, as her own children grew older, she felt called to a different type of ministry.
That's when her path led her to Luther Seminary to pursue ordained ministry. And, while Krolak always felt a call to mission work, her 2009 award of an ELCA Mission Developer scholarship made that call even clearer.
"It has allowed me to keep the sense of joyful urgency that is propelling me forward in this call into the unknown," said the M.Div. intern. "And it has encouraged me in discerning God's mission."
Last year, the ELCA established the Mission Developer Scholarship Fund to support future mission pastors. In order to be a mission developer in the past, students first needed to serve another congregation. Now, students can study mission development and directly enter a mission congregation.
So far, three Luther students have received $10,000 scholarships for their middler year and, with successful continuation of the program, senior year.
M.Div. intern Scott Simmons, a 2009 scholarship recipient, doesn't think it's a coincidence that Luther is well represented among the scholarship winners.
"I firmly believe that Luther is the premier program in the country, if not the world, when it comes to missional thinking," he said. "I expect for many of the things pioneered here to be adopted by other seminaries—Lutheran and non-Lutheran."
It wasn't until junior Ben Hilding joined the Luther community that he turned his focus to missional development.
"It was here that my interest was ignited," said the 2010 recipient. "The most security in my decision came when a fellow Luther student, my wife, told me, "Ben, this stuff fits you to a T."
As affirming as these scholarships are, they are also proof that the larger church sees the importance of mission development.
"Most of all, this scholarship reminds me that my journey through seminary is not isolated," Hilding said. "I know that I am one of a large community of people invested in the future of the church."