ELCA Chaplain, Navy Commander Tom Bingol, currently serving in Hawaii, and his spouse, Jennie, established the first named ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Fund for Leaders scholarship with a commitment gift of $25,000. This separately named scholarship will honor Jennie’s late mother, Louis Stroud Sullivan, who died last year. They pledged $2,500 a year for the next 10 years to complete this first of its kind gift to the scholarship fund. Once the fund reaches $25,000, proceeds will be distributed to the ELCA Chaplaincy Fund for Leaders scholarship fund and awarded to students from any of the eight ELCA seminaries or other institutions ELCA students may be attending who have indicated their intent to enter military chaplaincy. ELCA Chaplain Retired Eric Wester, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop and Director of Federal Chaplaincies for the ELCA, hopes this will be the first of many such separately named endowment funds to come as more ELCA chaplains for all three services are eagerly sought by the Chiefs of Chaplains and the Church.
ELCA chaplains have a solid reputation in the military chaplaincy for being able to support or provide for all personnel without violating their theological integrity and retaining respect for all those in their care. Currently, an issue for the military chaplaincy is the high number of faith group restrictions placed on many chaplains limiting their ability to serve all personnel. Also, ELCA chaplains are noted for their education and experience before coming into active service as a chaplain. This challenging preparation produces quality clergy who have a srong understanding of call and ministry especially within a highly pluralistic environment as the military demands. ELCA chaplains provide a robust traditional word and sacrament ministry needed and desired by both Lutheran personnel and other service folks.
In addition to this gift commitment the Bingols are making provisions through their estate planning, that upon their death, additional gifts will be given to further build the scholarship fund. Those who will one day benefit from the Louise Stroud Sullivan Federal Chaplaincy Seminary Scholarship Fund will be told about the life and faithful witness of Jennie’s “momma,” Louise Stroud Sullivan, and about how this fund was established in memory of her, in honor of the love this family shared, and in hopes of helping to raise up and support seminary students seeking to go into federal chaplaincy ministry.