Special COVID-19 Relief Fund: Celebrating our Donor Communities

Dear friends,

Thank you — on behalf of 90 schools of theology, their staffs and students, and their families, and from 31 scholars in formation along with their families, and from the staff and board of ScholarLeaders.

Leaders of these schools have confronted a storm from last March: the virus, of course, but also the economic and educational disruption that followed. Through it all, they remained focused on their unique missions: to form leaders for the Church and to guide the Church and society. Enabled by generous donors, we were privileged to stand with those leaders, as we describe in the report below.

We now turn, with them, to the long task of rebuilding.

Grateful for generosity that exceeded our hopes,

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, five organizations – ScholarLeaders (USA), Overseas Council (USA), Overseas Council Australia, LeaDev (New Zealand), and ReSource Leadership (Canada) – collaborated to mobilize over $1 million (USD) to help Majority World schools and leaders.

Because of the pandemic, Majority World seminaries moved courses online. They hosted students who could not travel home and were forced into lock down on campus. They struggled to cover financial shortfalls as tuition, donations, and revenue from business ventures ceased.

To provide help, we collectively identified schools to support, contacted donors, and coordinated to distribute funds. Donors responded with tremendous generosity. We were able to mobilize:

  • $1,028,318 total funds
  • $981,958 distributed to 90 institutions
  • $46,360 distributed to 31 scholars and their families

With these funds, schools provided for stranded students, improved internet infrastructure, developed virtual courses, paid faculty salaries, and reimagined long-term plans to address issues such as donor engagement and switching from residential to non-residential models.

Seminary leaders wrote messages of gratitude:

  • Joshua Lorin, President, Oriental Theological Seminary (Dimapur, India): “Your support, wisdom, guidance, and prayers are of divine providence. We would be lost without you. Your love and compassion have manifested the unwavering faithfulness of our God.”
  • Serghei Namesnic, University Divitia Gratiae (Chisinau, Moldova): “I would like to thank you for your prayers, your care, and your financial help. We have 120 students staying on campus. We are planning to use this money to cover their expenses.”
  • Frew Tamrat, Evangelical Theological College (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): “Personally, I am very grateful for your prayers and kindness. The lockdown came on us while we were unprepared, and we were not able to collect tuition fees. As a result, paying the salaries of our faculty and staff has been a challenge. Thank you for sharing our burdens.”

Individual leaders also wrote messages of gratitude:

  • Sofanit Abebe (Ethiopian, studying at the University of Edinburgh): “Words fail to express my gratitude for your emergency support. I just praise God for His infinite kindness. May God continue to use ScholarLeaders as His instrument of hope.”
  • Grace Al-Zoughbi Arteen (Palestinian, studying at the London School of Theology): “Thank you so much for thinking of us scholars in such a practical way. We pray and know that the Lord will reward your hard labor for His kingdom and will bless your faithfulness.”

In addition to this funding, our organizations held hundreds of calls to counsel seminary leaders. The InSights Journal for Global Theological Education published a feature describing immediate challenges from the crisis and creative responses. Recognizing the longer-term impact, the ISJ also developed a supplemental issue – a series of questionnaires – to help schools conduct self-assessments and plan for this next academic term. (To read the ISJ article and supplement, visit www.insightsjournal.org.)

We praise God for His provision. Thanks to our generous donor communities, we have been able to address some of the most critical needs among seminaries and leaders. Many seminaries have endured the initial disaster and are entering the new academic year as a time of rebuilding.

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