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September 08, 2021

By The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Investing in Faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

There are some items of correspondence I hang on to because they prompt me to keep thinking. This week I came across a note I received in the summer of 2019. One of our alumni had returned the spring fundraising letter he’d received from Trinity with a handwritten note: “Wondering about the viability of Trinity – so few students – so many faculty required!” This pastor went on to express a concern not just about the future of Trinity but about all ELCA seminaries.

It was a sobering note to receive. I was only a year and a half into my call as seminary dean, and we were just finishing up our first full fiscal year as part of Capital University. My sense was that things were going well, but how well, and for how long? Neither my correspondent nor I could have imagined that a global pandemic was in our future, or how that would impact churches and educational institutions.

This week, when I came across the note, I wondered how this pastor’s concern about his alma mater’s viability had affected his giving. Had he given up on us? I was delighted to discover that the answer is a resounding No!

This alumnus has been giving consistently to Trinity for 30 years! Some years there’s been more than one gift. Occasional gifts have been designated for scholarships, but most have been unrestricted gifts to the Trinity Fund. Economic downturn? My correspondent kept giving. Interim seminary president? My correspondent kept giving. New seminary president? My correspondent kept giving. Trinity relinquishing its independence to become part of Capital University? My correspondent kept giving. New structure, new dean, smaller faculty and staff? My correspondent kept giving. Concerns about the future? My correspondent kept – and keeps – giving.

Some donors take a “wait and see” stance, wanting more time and more evidence before committing to a gift. Other donors are more like the sower in Jesus’ parable, scattering seed and trusting in God to give the growth. Of course we are called to be thoughtful, responsible stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. We are also called to trust that God will bless our stewardship. I believe that, as a seminary, we are demonstrating our trustworthiness – both with your financial support and with the students God sends us. Thank you for your faithful partnership in our mission of forming leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.

The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary forms leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.