By Kevin Armbrust
In the early 1900s, Dr. Rosa J. Young (1890–1971) traveled around Alabama teaching African American children who were not allowed to attend public schools. In 1916, she wrote to Dr. Booker T. Washington — a former slave and the founder of Tuskegee University — asking for his help with her work. Washington suggested she write to the LCMS, which was already known for its mission work among African Americans in the South.
Young met with the LCMS Mission Board, whose members were immediately impressed with her faith and love of education. With the support of the LCMS, Young worked tirelessly to educate African American children and young adults, a passion that resulted in over 30 historically black schools in Alabama. She regularly told young people that their future was working for the church. Concordia College Alabama (CCA), Selma, Ala., played a large role in continuing Young’s efforts.
“The closing of CCA was a loss to the entire church,” said the Rev. Bart Day, president and CEO of Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). “As LCEF closed the books and wrote off the final unpaid debt, the LCEF Board of Directors remained steadfast that the legacy of the institution, specifically Rosa’s legacy of recruiting and raising up church workers, had to continue. To that end, the LCEF board, with the approval of the LCMS Board of Directors, designated $550,000 of LCEF income to seed scholarship funds that would keep Rosa’s work and passion alive.”
To honor Young’s legacy, LCEF and the LCMS Foundation have worked together to establish the Dr. Rosa J. Young Scholarship Endowment at both Concordia University Chicago (CUC), River Forest, Ill., and Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., and Concordia University Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Mich. (CUWAA). LCEF has provided $275,000 to each school’s endowment as a foundation upon which additional funds can grow for the support of future workers. According to the endowments’ founding documents, the fund “will provide significant financial support for African American students wanting to become pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education, and other professional church work vocations to serve in the ministries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
The LCMS treasures the Gospel of Jesus Christ and seeks to provide Lutheran education to all. The ongoing recruitment and development of church workers is essential to the mission and ministry of the Synod. Since one of the perceived barriers to church work is the cost of education, this scholarship fund is intended to alleviate that stress for African American students who desire to prepare for full-time church work at either CUC or CUWAA. Both CUC and CUWAA — which were chosen to receive the endowments due to the current diversity among their student populations — are also working to encourage more students to pursue church work careers, in concert with the Synod’s church work initiative, Set Apart to Serve.
The gift from LCEF reflects the organization’s continued support of the Synod’s work to proclaim Christ and Him crucified. It also evinces LCEF’s interest in helping recruit and train church workers for the next generation. More specifically, the grants focus on the need for African American church workers in the LCMS. “LCEF is overjoyed to be a part of this larger effort to honor the memory and legacy of CCA and Rosa and continue the recruiting and supporting of African American students to serve our congregations, schools and institutions through lives of service to Christ,” said Day. “We hope others will join the effort and grow these funds so a significant impact is made in the support of black ministry in the LCMS.”
For more information, or to contribute to the Dr. Rosa J. Young Scholarship Endowment, contact the LCMS Foundation at 800-325-7912 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted Jan. 26, 2022