WELS Foundation announced it has distributed $2.9 million from more than 300 endowments through its endowment program this year. WELS ministerial education schools received $1.9 million, and WELS Missions received $508,000. The remainder was distributed to congregations, schools, or other WELS/WELS-affiliated ministries that benefit from donor-designated endowments.
WELS Foundation manages endowment funds established by individuals, congregations, or other WELS organizations for the benefit of Christ’s work. These donor-restricted gifts are invested with WELS Investment Funds into its endowment allocation (a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds; learn more here). Annual distributions from the endowment investment returns provide a source of ongoing financial support for WELS ministries.
But the support isn’t just for ministries; it’s for people like Mr. Jonathan Neumann, who is starting his final year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis., and Rev. Adam Lambrecht, a 2019 WLS graduate and a new missionary in Laramie, Wyo. Both Neumann and Lambrecht received tuition assistance grants for their schooling from an endowment through their congregation Crown of Life, Pueblo West, Colo.
Mrs. Helen Kuehl, a WELS member who lived in the area, set up a charitable remainder trust through WELS Foundation in her will. In 2016, the Rev. Ernst Claus Kuehl Memorial Scholarship Fund—named in memory of Helen’s late husband—was established with the remainder of that trust to help local students studying for the ministry. Each year, Crown of Life receives a distribution from that fund to help pay college or seminary expenses for members who are studying to become full-time called workers.
“The people who knew her talked about how she had a passion for the synod and the long-range view of people sharing the gospel,” says Rev. David Wietzke, pastor at Crown of Life.
Neumann says it was a big relief to receive this help. “It’s peace of mind when it comes to you,” he says. “It also sets you up for the future. As you’re leaving school, you don’t have to be thinking about debt in the same way.”
But the funding doesn’t only help financially. Neumann says receiving a gift like this shows him how invested an individual and a congregation are in his future ministry, even if he may not be serving their church directly. “It’s a testimony to the power of the gospel,” he says. “It’s an encouragement of faith.”
Wietzke shares that if Crown of Life doesn’t have a member currently studying for the ministry, the congregation sends the money directly to WLS for needs-based tuition assistance. “It’s neat to know that we can make a difference,” he says. “And this isn’t a one-time thing. This is something we can do every single year.”
He continues, “It’s a great example of how people can be thinking past their own time on earth. They can be serving the gospel to generations in the future.”
To learn more about adding to an existing endowment or setting up an endowment for a ministry close to your heart, contact your local Christian giving counselor at wels.net/giving-counselors. To learn more about WELS Foundation, visit wels.net/foundation.