Board approves grants for seminarians, campus ministry and new starts

The Live On board approved financial aid for eight clergy candidates and increased funding for the campus ministry programs when it approved grants from the Gulf Coast Synod’s $2.7 million endowment.

Live On awards grants that are aligned with established priorities—seminary scholarships, campus ministry, mission development and seed money for innovative and emerging ministry ideas.

Spring grants totaled $48,500. Live On has provided more than $900,000 to its focus areas since it was launched as the Synod’s Mission Endowment Fund in 1999.

The Spring grants marked the fourth consecutive grant cycle in which Live On met the goal of enabling Gulf Coast Synod candidates for Lutheran ministry to continue their studies without taking on new student debt. Pastor Blair Lundborg, assistant to the bishop, works with ministry candidates to determine their need and makes funding recommendations to the Live On board.

One recipient is Clayton Faulkner, director of Worship, Music and Technology at Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, who began his master of divinity studies in the collaborative learning program at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.

“The Live On scholarships provided to Gulf Coast Synod seminary students is proof of God’s provision for me,” he said. “Knowing that I can complete seminary without taking on the burden of more financial debt is confirmation that God is at work. This means so much to my family and the future of our shared ministry. The freedom to seek God’s calling to serve the church in an unencumbered way is a blessing.”

The synod’s campus ministry includes Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry at Rice University and the University of Houston; Treehouse at Texas A&M University and Blinn College and Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. Live On’s funding is in addition to support from congregations, individuals and Synod funds.

Pastor Mike Button, senior pastor at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church and leader of the LSU program, said, “The support we’ve received from the synod and from St. Paul have been God-sent.”

Pastor Button said he is considering hiring a part-time campus ministry assistant to help facilitate gatherings and connect to campus events and programming.

Board members, meeting at Living Word Lutheran Church in Katy, also approved grants for new mission starts and for immigration workshops organized by St. James Lutheran Church/Santiago Apóstol in Houston.

Seed Money grants are a grassroots aspect of the endowment’s work. Grant applications are reviewed by a committee.

Robert Rivera, who submitted the proposal, said the workshops are valuable for immigrants, important outreach for the congregation and an avenue for ecumenical outreach to other faith communities.

Pastor Chris Markert, the Synod’s mission developer, said Live On grants supplement other funding for starting and revitalizing congregations.

“Through Live On’s generosity, we are able to support pastors and deacons as they start new missions and re-vitalize existing ministries.”