The Freed to Lead Fund was established in September 2008 to assist in the training and support of rostered leaders in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod by providing scholarships for endorsed seminarians and leadership grants to rostered leaders for 1. theological education debt 2. pension equity and 3. special circumstances that create undue financial burden.

Seminarian The Freed to Lead Fund was initiated with a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, which provided matching seed money to encourage churches and church members to contribute to assist rostered leaders. Also providing matching money to this fund is the ELCA Fund for Leaders for contributions made to seminary scholarships.

According to the fund’s organizing documents, “The Freed to Lead Fund is established to uphold the great gift of ministry that rostered leaders provide in service to our Lord Jesus Christ through the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Fund fuirther finds value in the significant relationships that exist between rostered leaders and congregations and is therefore established to strengthen those relationships so that ministry may be enriched in ways that are unencumbered for both rostered leaders and congregations. This fund will provide a holistic approach to the training and support of rostered leaders for ministry in the church.”

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The Lilly Endowment grant and the establishment of the Freed to Lead Fund arises out of a number of challenging factors for the church:

1. Rising costs of seminary education: The average annual tuition at an ELCA seminary is $12,000 and the typical student also incurs living expenses ranging from $15,000 to $26,000. That brings the cumulative cost of attending three years of seminary to a range of $70,000 to $102, 000. Many students have college debt also.

2. Rising seminary education debt, averaging $38,000 in 2006 in the ELCA. Seventy percent of seminary students take out loans to fund their education and can anticipate monthly loan payments of $300-600 in their first calls.

3, Low income of rostered leaders in smaller churches impacts the ability of first call pastors to meet monthly payments for education debt. In the I-K Synod, 76% of churches have 150 or less in worship.

SeminaryClass 4. Low pension contributions as a result of low income also impacts the ability of rostered leaders to move comfortably into retirement.

5. Poor stewardship in ELCA parishes: The average giving in the ELCA is 2% of annual income, which is far below the Biblical tithe of 10%, and results in less in budgets for pastoral support and training of seminarians.

6. A perception of scarcity in our church when the promise of our Lord is abundance (John 10:10, Matt. 25:14-30.)


For further information about the Freed to Lead Fund and initiative, contact:

Pr. Heather Apel
Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA
[email protected]