Pastors sometimes begin their ministries with more than a willing heart and a servant’s attitude; in some cases, they also carry the burden of a large debt-load accumulated as part of their college preparation for ministry. With a new Kern Family Foundation Grant recently awarded to Crown College, future ministers will not only be able to save on the cost of their education, they’ll be able to complete their professional training in a shorter timeframe. Students may select an accelerated program in which they earn both a bachelor and master’s degree in just five years – a reduction of 1-2 years.
The $500,000 Kern Family Foundation Grant received by Crown will be available beginning Fall 2016. According to Dale Lemke, the Assistant Professor of Ministry Leadership and the Christian Ministry Chair at Crown College Online, “the grant is a tremendous blessing to our students because it provides a new means for future leaders to complete their education quickly and cost-effectively”.
Lemke says “Crown was awarded this grant to facilitate the development of several accelerated degree programs,” explaining that students in either the on-campus or online program would be able to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Leadership and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies within five years. A student could also choose to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies within that same timeframe.
The grant does include a few stipulations. Students participating in the program must be under 27 years old and will be required to maintain a strong GPA. Participation in the program will also include a self-assessment to ensure each student is ready for the academic challenge and all participants are expected to demonstrate a commitment to enter the ministry. Lemke says the program will be rewarding but also rigorous because students will take graduate-level coursework as part of their undergraduate studies.
While the scholarship will be applicable to several of Crown’s existing degree programs, students interested in a new Master of Divinity degree program will also be eligible. “Crown is seeking to launch a Master of Divinity degree program during the fall of 2016,” says Lemke. “The MDiv has long been the standard preparation for individuals called to full-time, professional ministry and pending approval from our accreditors, the Kern grant will make it possible for students in either the Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Leadership or Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry students to roll right into a Master of Divinity program and complete both degrees within five years of intensive study.”
The Kern Family Foundation was created by Robert and Patricia Kern who founded a generator company in Wisconsin called Generac Power Systems in 1959. After selling a division and later the entire company, they established a foundation to “invest in the rising generation of Americans, equipping them to become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.” This includes a special focus on current and future pastors who are seen as instrumental in shaping the country’s leaders and national morals.
Earlier this summer, Dr. Scott Moats, Crown College Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs attended a two-day retreat to learn more about the Kern Family Foundation and quickly recognized that “Crown College and the Kern Family Foundation are closely aligned in their mission, values, and commitment to excellence in the workplace.” Over 15 schools were represented at the retreat and Dr. Moats was impressed with the organization and its commitment to helping the Christian community develop innovative delivery models in pastoral education.
“As a grant recipient” says Moats, “we are privileged to serve as a conduit of the Kern family’s generosity and help fulfill their desire to equip pastors for the significant role they play in the community and society as a whole.”
Although this new scholarship program at Crown is still in development, interested students are encouraged to contact their ministry development advisor who will provide additional detail when available and can also address questions regarding the accelerated degree programs.