Major Gift Priorities

When some people think of Quakers, they presume peculiar, antiquated lifestyles. When we think of Quakers, we see a rich heritage of spiritual values that never grow old. When some people imagine seminary education, they assume a process that reinforces the status quo. When we imagine Quaker seminary education, we commit to being open to the fresh movement of God, preserving that which is valuable, and challenging all that opposes truth, love and justice.

When other theological schools were preparing people for a single, hierarchical, pastoral model of ministry, Earlham School of Religion was teaching the universal ministry of all believers as manifested in servant leadership. While other seminaries were exclusively or predominantly catering to men, ESR encouraged women and men equally in ministry. With other schools geared toward merely depositing information in their students' minds, ESR offered a program with equal emphasis on spirituality, intellect and practice, providing deep learning that transformed the hearts and minds of those preparing to minister.ESR consistently shows itself to be a leader in the field of theological education. Once again, the school is prepared to assume that role in a world that propels us forward on a roller-coaster ride, complete with fast curves of innovation, steep inclines of new challenges, and sudden plunges into fresh experiences.

Into this ethos, ESR interjects the simple qualities of responsible faith and spiritual depth. Our world, our country, our neighbors, and our families attempt to piece together meaningful lives in an era when these two qualities are in short supply. As a consequence of this lack, each group suffers. Without them, family units live on shaky foundations. Congregations lose their vision and sense of purpose. Neighborhoods forget the importance of building community. Society loses touch with the deeper joy that sustains our hope for a meaningful future. Indeed, we see a world starved for spiritual sustenance, of individuals bereft of a living connection to God. The poor of the world are often defeated by despair, bred of injustice; the spirits of the wealthy are often deadened by material excess; and the spirits of ordinary folks are often deflated by the overwhelming challenge of it all. Our meetings, churches, and faith communities cannot proceed with business as usual if they hope to be part of a meaningful solution grounded in responsibility and depth. In this moment of need, ESR is positioned to contribute to a resolution.

Communities around the world need capable ministers able to infuse grace, wisdom and joy into the locations where they serve. Every generation needs new leadership competent in ministries that heal, transform and empower those to whom they minister. We desire individuals who do not cower in the face of uncertainty, or panic in the face of diversity. We want persons who will listen before they answer-listen to our stories and to the Spirit's wisdom. We need servant leaders so rooted in the certainty of Christ's Presence that they know they never minister alone. We need a different kind of leader for this new day.

As a Christian school grounded in the Quaker tradition, ESR is uniquely situated to prepare persons for the type of leadership and ministry required in today's world-the type where Quaker values, beliefs and practices provide the foundation and framework for creating leaders who possess spiritual depth, model responsible faith, and can offer faithful ministry in this time of change. But in order to do so, the school needs philanthropic friends to partner with it in key fundraising opportunities. These proposals define initiatives to endow key programs integral to ESR’s educational programs. It is hoped that those who read these proposals will find themselves moved to support them.