The first time Rev. Glen Gronlund visited the Holy Land, he was nearing retirement. His wife Shirley, who had visited the area before, says when the couple returned home, they reminisced about their trip and talked about how insightful it was.
She says she turned to her husband and said, “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if you had this experience to have gone to Israel and walked where Jesus walked and experienced these things …”
“… at the beginning and not at the end of my career,” Glen says, completing her thought.
The couple, who met while students at St. Olaf College in the 1950s, began thinking of ways that they could make that experience come true for seminary students. The result is The Glen H. & Shirley Beito Gronlund Mediterranean/Ancient Near East Travel Fund, which makes possible trips for Trinity Lutheran Seminary students and their spouses to travel to the Holy Land.
The Gronlunds’ relationship with Capital grew out of Glen’s former role as CEO of Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services, now Ohio Living, which is headquartered in Columbus. When they moved from Minnesota to Columbus, the couple quickly discovered that Trinity was located in their new community.
“We were really thrilled,” Shirley says. “We wanted to become involved with the Seminary.”
When setting up the fund, the Gronlunds wanted to be sure that spouses would be able to accompany seminary students on the trip. Shirley says when Glen was a pastor, she was an integral part of his ministry often engaging in music and teaching at the church where he served.
The couple, who has traveled extensively and now live in Naples, Florida, say their own journeys have given them an understanding of the roots of Christianity.
“We also traveled to Rome, Italy, and all the places that Paul went,” Shirley says.
Adds Glen, “Travel is so much a part of education – more so than it ever was before.”
For the Gronlunds, the greatest expression of thanks for their gift has come from letters and postcards they’ve received from those who have benefited from the trips.
“They are the most moving things I’ve ever read,” Glen says. “They write about how it changed their whole perspective on the Bible.”
Shirley says by providing this opportunity early in the students’ careers, the gift continues its reach by allowing their future congregations to benefit through the knowledge the ministers obtain.