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Tomsons’ challenge gift will provide funds for new ministry scholarship

WAVERLY — A $150,000 challenge grant, provided by O. Jay and Pat Tomson of Mason City, will support scholarships for students enrolled in Wartburg College and Wartburg Theological Seminary’s new Integrated B.A./M.Div. Degrees program for ordained ministry.

The program, a partnership between the college and seminary, streamlines the preparation for pastoral ministry for first-career ministerial students. Funded by a nearly $500,000 grant from the Kern Family Foundation, the program includes three years of undergraduate education at Wartburg College with at least one semester using the Wartburg Seminary digital learning platform. Students will spend the final three years serving in a congregation while completing their master’s studies through Wartburg Seminary.

“This challenge grant was an important way for us to support the mission of the college as well as the mission of the seminary,” said O. Jay Tomson. “It’s wonderful to see a college of the church and the seminary working together to bring leadership into the church at a younger age, and as a donor it was an opportunity to support this academic innovation and allow students to enter into the work environment debt-free. We hope through the challenge grant other donors will see and act upon this same opportunity.”

The collaborative program was one of about 60 recommendations that stemmed from Wartburg College’s Focus on the Future constituent-based planning initiative. Among the list were recommendations to brand Wartburg in new and emerging markets and to pursue new partnerships.

“I’m gratified that the Tomsons see the promise in this rejuvenated relationship between Wartburg, a college of the church, and our sister institution, Wartburg Theological Seminary,” said Wartburg President Darrel Colson. “Together with the Tomsons, we will address the needs of congregations while empowering young people to claim their callings in ordained ministry. I can’t think of a more exciting project.”

The scholarship is available to students who enrolled in the program in 2018 or plan to enroll in the program in 2019. Students who receive this scholarship also will receive a scholarship from the Kern Foundation. 

“This program streamlines theological education without compromising quality,” said Halcyon Bjornstad, director for the Integrated B.A./M.Div. Degrees program. “We are excited to offer students the chance to begin to follow God’s call in their life sooner than ever before.”

Gifts in support of Integrated B.A./M.Div. Scholarships can be directed to the Wartburg Development Office at 866-219-9115 or development@wartburg.edu.

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