Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Letter to an Anonymous Donor

From the Gettysburg PO
By Michael Cooper-White, Seminary President

Dear Friend in Christ:

Shortly before a recent day at the office concluded, as I was wrapping up some pending matters prior to a few days of vacation, the call came from our mutual friend in Chicago, Pr. Don Hallberg, director of the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Don’s call and your generous intent made my day, and I lift prayers of thanksgiving to God for you!

Pr. Hallberg explained that it is your desire to remain “anonymous” in your extravagant generosity. Following our standard protocol, Gettysburg Seminary would issue a letter of thanks if your gift were $3 or $300 or $3,000. The fact that ultimately it will be a gift of $300,000 upon the completion of your life’s journey means that your donative intent will make a BIG difference for the Seminary in perpetuity. You and I share a common commitment to ecumenism, and your gift to the Seminary’s permanent endowment will ensure ongoing ecumenical education that will broaden the horizons of future generations of students.

You have chosen well in your selection of Gettysburg Seminary for this marvelous gift. The biography of our founder, Samuel Simon Schmucker, is entitled “Pioneer in Christian Unity.” Since the beginning, this school has heeded our Lord’s yearning “that they may be one” as God’s people. For nearly two centuries, ecumenical impulses have emanated from this institution into wide-ranging arenas. We were one of the founders of the ecumenical Washington Theological Consortium. The keynoter for our 2006 opening Academic Convocation is its current director, Father John Crossin, a Roman Catholic priest. Back in the late 1960’s, a Roman Catholic bishop was invited to preach in our chapel—a radical move at the time! All students are required to take at least one course in a school of another C hristian denomination. Here on campus we offer courses in practical engagement with our full communion partners, as well as a new course on major world religions taught by a professor joining our faculty this fall. While the large majority of our students are Lutheran, we are blessed every year by a rich sprinkling of present and future ministers from many traditions. You can be assured that the intended purpose of your gift—offering courses in ecumenism—will be honored.

How I wish I could know your name and call you on the phone or pay a personal visit! But in humility, you have chosen to be anonymous in this incredible act of Christian stewardship. Perhaps you are a regular reader of our Seminary website and will come across my “anonymous acknowledgement” in this venue. In any case, I trust that in the larger life of God there may be a day beyond our days here on earth for me to express gratitude on behalf of Gettysburg Seminary.

Oh, and one final note: Might it be possible without compromising your anonymity to offer several friends and relatives a word of encouragement? In other words, can you quietly share your commitment to such lavish generosity, with a gentle but firm urging, “Go thou and do likewise”?! God bless you, dear anonymous saint and supporter of Gettysburg Seminary, whoever and wherever you are . . .

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