Preparing the Next Generation of Church Leaders

July 21, 2009, 9:29 pm

Five years ago Northwest Nazarene University, with the enthusiastic support of churches and friends throughout the Northwest, created a scholarship fund to benefit students responding to their personal call to ministry. The Ministerial Scholarship Fund has changed lives at NNU and has changed the landscape of the Church of the Nazarene, both in our backyards and around the world.

The need was clear: provide the best preparation possible to students who are following a call to ministry and also allow them to serve God after graduation without the burden of an insurmountable debt. Dr. Holland Lewis, retired minister from Yakima, Wash., may have said it best: “Because education costs continue to increase, the debt load of graduating students needs to be kept at a manageable level. This scholarship program will allow NNU to play an important role in assisting students to graduate with less debt.”

Lest there be any doubt that your investment in ministry students at NNU is already paying dividends, consider just one example in the journey of NNU alum Emely DeLeon. Emely is a 2008 grad from Burbank, Calif. She finds her call to ministry in the Boise Valley and is pouring herself into a variety of ministries that benefit teenagers and young adults. She works part-time at Five Mile Church of the Nazarene in Boise, part-time in the admissions office at NNU and part-time with a new organization in Nampa called Launch Ministries.

Emely’s role with Launch Ministries is to teach, disciple and equip high school students to minister to their friends at school. These committed young men and women enroll in her classes that meet during the normal school schedule and are within walking distance from their high school campus. Her goal, and the mission of Launch Ministries, is to provide these students with a biblical foundation, support and encouragement, then launch them back into their own mission field at school. She is constantly reminded of, and grateful for, the education she received from NNU’s School of Theology and Christian Ministries.

Chances are, however, that the impact Emely is making in the Boise Valley might not be happening if it were not for the Ministerial Scholarship Fund. In fact, toward the end of her sophomore year, she visited with some of her professors to say goodbye because she couldn’t find the funds to continue her journey at NNU. She had conceded to “Plan B,” which probably would have involved serving food at a restaurant in Ohio until she could afford to fund the next step, whatever that may have been.

Dr. Diane LeClerc and Professor Mike Kipp were determined to keep Emely at NNU, and found enough ministerial scholarship dollars to keep her from choosing Plan B. “I don’t know where I’d be without that scholarship. I’m so grateful for God’s providence!” says Emely.

Another significant benefit of being a part of the Ministerial Scholarship Fund program is the mentorship received from Professor Mike Kipp, program director since its inception. Professor Kipp holds students accountable through weekly meetings where he encourages them to serve in local ministries. Every freshman student is exposed to a variety of ministries and churches around the Boise Valley. By their senior year, students are devoting at least 15 hours a week in service to a specific church.

This mentor relationship becomes a time of spiritual, personal and professional growth for those who are involved in the program. Professor Kipp, like all of the professors in the School of Theology and Christian Ministries, is passionate about connecting students to Kingdom work in which they are specifically called. He explains it this way: “Many of our students have a clear sense of call to vocational ministry within a context that is outside the local church. Some will go to a foreign mission field, and some will aspire to fill a pulpit locally. Others, however, like Emely DeLeon, will find a creative domestic mission field in which they can serve the Lord. It’s exciting to see God work in the hearts and minds of our young people!”

This fall, NNU will send more graduates to Nazarene Theological Seminary than it has in any of the last ten years. Students are hungry for more education and hungry to serve. The Ministerial Scholarship Fund is NNU’s answer to the issue of ministerial student debt. While there are other worthy organizations needing donations, we hope you choose to continue to invest in the Ministerial Scholarship Fund. Partner with us in training the next generation of ministers within the Church of the Nazarene!

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