A year-ending annual gift from a Missouri congregation has put giving to the Theological Education Fund over $50 million over the 22 years of the project

Barry Williams, pastor of First and Calvary in Springfield, says the church’s gift to TEF reflects their core value, to participate in Presbyterian mission by giving designated and unrestricted gifts to the denomination, while engaging in local missional activity. “We’re thrilled by this serendipitous occurrence. What a privilege to participate in a good program like TEF and have a role in setting this $50 million milestone.” Greg Ellis, who is First and Calvary’s associate pastor and works with its mission committee, adds, “Learning about the unbroken string of 22 years of giving to TEF was a great affirmation for us.  We are committed   to the Theological Education Fund.  We value mission and want to support the mind of faith.”  

The Theological Education Fund was established by the 198th General Assembly (1986) to provide congregations a way to support all Presbyterian Theological Seminaries in the PC(USA). Administered by the GA Committee on Theological Education (COTE), it began receiving funds in 1989. 

Also known as the 1% plan, the General Assembly encourages each congregation to give 1% of its program budget to investing in growing leaders for the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.).  In the 1990s a seminary support network was formed.    Their primary work is to build relationships between seminaries and all congregations and to share how lives transformed for Christ are making a difference in the church and world.

A large group of people standing together outside of a church.

Seminary Support Network. —Photo courtesy of Kim Schmidt.

“Over half of our congregations have supported the fund since 1989, including thousands of regular and deeply invested supporters,” says Rose Niles, associate for Theological Education and Seminary Relations for the General Assembly Mission Council. “All gifts are welcome and appreciated. 2012 will be a year of thanksgiving and celebration of thousands of congregations and mid councils that have invested over $50 million in this exciting, vital ministry.” 

First and Calvary Presbyterian Church, which is surrounded by Missouri State University, welcomes the celebration. Both Williams and Ellis say they want to give glory to God while lifting up the value of Presbyterian seminaries. 

“PC(USA) seminaries are remarkably broad and diverse in their expertise, which serves our educated clergy well,” says Ellis. “They excel at creatively making lifelong learning and continuing education for all Presbyterians possible,” adds Williams.

To learn more about the Seminary Support Network, the TEF and a new partnership with the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, visit the Theological Education website. Give your gifts to TEF, the only denomination-wide support for PC(USA) seminaries.