The following is an edited email from our Federal Chaplaincy Endorser, Eric Wester, reporting on the banquet for Fund for Leaders in Chicago recently where Ensign Joe Pinzel was awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the new Chaplaincy Scholarship Award. This award is growing every year due to generous contributions from congregations and individuals that see the important need for the next generation of ELCA Chaplains serving Christ and Country starting with our sons and daughters in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
Dear Colleagues in Ministry and Friends,
What a glorious celebration! Friday, 29 September at the Fund for Leaders Banquet, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the ELCA Fund for Leaders (FFL). Our ELCA Federal Chaplaincies Fund for Leaders Scholarship was included in the celebration! For the first time our chaplaincies were visible in uniform: Ensign Joe Pinzl, USNR, Chaplain Candidate Program Officer, was introduced to over 300 guests and featured in the bulletin of reports.
Also present with Ensign Pinzel was his synod bishop, the Rev. Jim Ahrens, La Crosse Area Synod. At the Banquet, Joe was congratulated by the Rev. Dr. Robin Steinke, President, Luther Seminary, where Ensign Pinzl is a third-year student. Photos are included.
Our Federal Chaplaincies Scholarship also had other important supporters present. Overall, the Chaplaincies Scholarship Fund has received over $122,000 plus $55,000 more in additional pledges. Representing Chaplain Tom and Jennie Bingol at the Banquet was Mr. and Mrs. Rob and Marianne Denkewalter. The Bingols established a $25,000 named scholarship honoring Jennie’s mother with the Mary Louise Stroud Federal Chaplaincies Scholarship. Theirs is the first of now two named Federal Chaplaincy Scholarships. Bishop Murray and Mrs. Rhoda Finck also established a named scholarship. Jennie and Tom watched a live feed of the evening program via internet from their current Navy location in Hawaii.
Also attending the Banquet was Mr. Gordon Gertner. Gordon is church council president of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, San Bernardino served by Pastor Scottie Lloyd. Lutheran Church of our Savior is the first congregation committing to an annual gift to the Scholarship of $1,000 or more. The goal of the Development Team is to identify 100 congregations across the ELCA to commit $1,000 to the Federal Chaplaincies Scholarship over and above regular mission support. This is an annual commitment and can be renewed. Each year, additional gifts of $100,000 will move us much further ahead toward the overall goal: $1 million for chaplaincy scholarships.
It was a joy to celebrate the “Yes” to God’s call by Ensign Joe Pinzl, USNR, CCPO. While there, another Chaplain Candidate, Lt Will Bevins plus a new applicant to become a Chaplain Candidate, Christopher Girardeau (both USAF), were visible in person or via video.
Photos show Seminarian Christopher Girardeau with Dean David Ratke, College of Theology, LTSS/LRU; Seminarian/Ensign Pinzel with the Denkewalters and Gordon Gertner. Also, Joe is pictured with Luther Seminary president Robin Steinke.
The celebration included news that over twenty years, the Fund for Leaders received $52 million in gifts. Looking ahead, the FFL is now aiming for the next $50 million. The vision is every person called by God to rostered ministry as a pastor or deacon can obtain their education with no additional debt.
Thanks to all of you for your prayerful and generous support of the ELCA Federal Chaplaincies FFL Scholarship!
Pastor Eric Wester
Assistant to the Presiding Bishop and Director, Federal Chaplaincies