The ELCA Fund for Leaders awarded Women of the ELCA’s executive board member Sara Larson a $54,000 four-year scholarship. Larson, one of 49 full-tuition scholarship recipients for the 2019-20 academic year, is attending Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.
“If it were not for the loving, caring and supportive women in Women of the ELCA, raising me up and encouraging me, I would not have had the courage to answer this call and begin this journey,” said Larson, a candidate for Word and Sacrament Ministry from the Southwestern Minnesota Synod. “I am so grateful for all your affirmation. You are the best!”
Larson and 48 other new full-tuition recipients, eight mission developer recipients, and two federal chaplaincy ministries recipients were honored at a ceremony in Chicago on Sept. 27. “The ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship program supports students of tremendous promise attending ELCA seminaries,” according to the ELCA Fund for Leaders website.
Second board member to receive the scholarship
Larson becomes the second Women of the ELCA executive board member to receive a Fund for Leaders scholarship. Jennifer Michael, churchwide president for the 2011-2014 triennium, also accepted a full-tuition scholarship in 2013. She now serves as pastor for Saint Peter Lutheran Church, Battle Creek, Mich.
Larson, who works part-time as a lay minister at First Lutheran Church, Marshall, Minn., was among 80 scholarship applicants who completed a written application and video about what it means to be a leader in the ELCA. (Watch Larson’s 4-minute video application.)
Larson is enrolled in an online Master of Divinity program at Wartburg. “This scholarship has made it possible for me to attend seminary at the age of 44 and focus on my calling to be a pastor without worrying about how and when I will pay for it,” she said.
Larson said she felt the call to ministry after a significant change in her life. While she was always involved with the church, it wasn’t until she went through “a deep and healing transformation that I was able to see where God was calling me.”
Larson graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology. She was a Guardian ad Litem serving the court system in Minnesota from 1998-2018. She has been actively involved with youth programming in her community and church. She is currently a Minnesota State High School League official and serves as chair of the budget and finance committee for Women of the ELCA’s executive board (2017-2020).
The ELCA Fund for Leaders awarded just over $3 million to 283 students in the 2019-2020 academic year. To learn more, visit the ELCA Fund for Leaders site.