Why do I support Wartburg Theological Seminary?
In thinking about this question, I easily reflected upon my upbringing in Guyana (formerly British Guiana) and the formative influence of my immediate and extended family, the church, Lutheran missionaries, neighbors, and even strangers. Many images come to mind of the generosity of my parents extending hospitality to other relatives, several of whom lived with us as part of the family. I have learned that giving to others is a way of giving thanks to God for God’s goodness.
During the closing weeks of our confirmation class at Redeemer Lutheran Church—after an enjoyable, informative, thorough programme of study for over a year with Mrs. Ruth Hansen (long-term missionary from Nebraska!)—Pastor Paul G. Hansen explained to us what it means to make a pledge of offering to the church.
Over the years, as a member of the faculty, I have had countless opportunities to preach in congregations in many parts of the U.S.A. and in other countries. Those occasions have heightened my sense of the faithful, selfless, and generous giving of the people of God for the sake of sake of the mission of the church in Jesus’ name. I have preached in congregations where members have asked if I knew “so and so”, who were missionaries in Guyana. When I inquired why they asked, the common answer was, “Our congregation supported them, and they visited us during the periods of home leave!”
I was ‘introduced’ to Wartburg Theological Seminary and encouraged to apply for admission during my last year of undergraduate studies at the University of Guyana, 1973-74. Though reluctant to apply because I did not have the money to pay for my studies, I applied, was admitted, and offered a scholarship! To this day, I do not know my benefactors, but it is clear to me that their generous giving to WTS made the scholarship possible which extended to my PhD studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
My wife, Dr. May Burt Persaud (also WTS faculty) and I give to Wartburg Theological Seminary as a way of expressing our gratitude that I was given a superb theological education and formation for my calling as a pastor and teacher of the church. We give because at the core of its life and mission, Wartburg Seminary is a worship-centered community whose vision is global. To this day, I hear from WTS graduates—from the ELCA and the global church—without prompting, “I continue to lift up the evangelical, theological, and pastoral formation I received from Wartburg Theological Seminary.”
May and I give because Wartburg Seminary strives to be faithful, realistic, and accountable in its stewardship of preparing servant leaders to be disciples of Jesus Christ in a world that needs and longs for healing and wholeness. We give because this mission offers us an inviting opportunity to be faithful stewards of resources God has placed in our hands. Indeed, this reflection has given us a timely occasion to say: our giving to Wartburg Theological Seminary is grounded in God’s gracious self-giving in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rev. Winston D. Persaud, PhD
Professor of Systematic Theology
Director, Center for Global Theologies
Holder of the Kent S. Knutson & United Evangelical Lutheran Church Chair in Theology and Mission