Rev. Dr. Ron Mudge engages two CUW pre-seminary students after Daily Chapel.Rev. Dr. Ron Mudge engages two CUW pre-seminary students after Daily Chapel.

Concordia University Wisconsin is taking steps to respond to the Lutheran Church’s pastor shortage by easing the financial burden for pre-seminary students and actively encouraging more teens to explore the pastoral ministry.

Earlier this week, Concordia met its fundraising goal of $17,000 for the 17 in ’17 campaign. Launched in April 2016, 17 in ’17 set out to raise $17,000 in the year 2017 for 17 CUW students who are studying to become pastors.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 70 individuals and organizations had donated a total of $18,841, which will provide financial support—over and above other financial aid received—for pre-seminary students who have a demonstrated financial need.

“We’re overjoyed that the LORD has worked through so many generous brothers and sisters in Christ to allow us to surpass our goal,” says Rev. Dr. Ron Mudge, rouse associate professor of pre-seminary studies at CUW. “This is a great testimony to the selflessness of the CUW community and our many supporters. These generous gifts will be added to the financial aid that some of our pre-seminary students are already receiving and will help them immensely with the cost of their education. Our thanks go out to all who support our pre-seminary work with prayers, encouragement and gifts. ”

The 17 in ’17 initiative also aimed to enroll 17 new pre-seminary candidates within a year. Over the summer, Concordia met this goal as well when 17 incoming or transfer students entered the pre-seminary program in 2017.

To help with its recruitment efforts, the theology department hosted the inaugural Servants of Christ Conference in July. The overnight conference gave students in grades 9-12 a glimpse of what life on Concordia’s campus is like; Professors led group activities and shared messages designed to help participants live as servants of Christ in this challenging world.

The department also extended this effort by hosting a fall Servants of Christ Seminar, a one-day event geared towards students in grades 5-8. Mudge says planning is underway for the second annual Servants of Christ Conference and Seminar.

Concordia has also committed to financially help incoming students interested in pre-seminary studies. In fall 2016, the university started giving the Luther Scholar Guarantee, which provides pre-seminary students with $20,000 each year for up to four years.

To learn more about the Luther Scholar Guarantee, email Ron Mudge at Those interested in supporting pre-seminary students at CUW may still donate to 17 in ’17 at Any incoming donations to the campaign will go towards supporting future pre-seminary students.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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