Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training reaches One Million Dollars

Thursday, July 10, 2014

It was a joyful atmosphere on June 26, as 130 guests attended the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training Fundraising Banquet. Not only was the crowd looking forward to a delicious meal and a thought-provoking keynote, but this tenth annual event marked the achievement of an important milestone as the endowment surpassed one million dollars.

Since the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training was established in 1997 by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and Conrad Grebel University College, its proceeds have been used to fund the ministry training component of the Theological Studies program at Grebel. Ralph Lebold served as the third president of Grebel from 1979 to 1989 and he has been a long term Conference leader and minister. He and Eileen have faithfully supported this endowment and attended each banquet.

More than $152,000 in profits from the annual fundraising banquets has been added to the endowment in the decade since the first Ontario Mennonite Bible School/Institute Reunion banquet in 2004.

 At its gathering in April, MCEC announced a $250,000 gift to the endowment from the Harold and Enid Schmidt Estate. Harold was on the original fundraising committee for the Lebold Endowment in 1997, and this gift boosted the endowment over the one million mark.

“We have a new sense of direction and want to turn the Lebold Endowment into a tool that will serve the needs of the church long into the future,” explained Executive Minister at MCEC, David Martin. “We need to support both our existing pastors and our lay leaders to grow in their continuing education. Our vision is to partner with church and college to develop a program around a certificate in church ministry to bring all our Mennonite Church cultures together around the same table. Let’s work together as a college, as a constituency, and as a church, to make our church thrive, grow, and adapt to meet the demands of the future that is coming our way.”

“In Theological Studies, we are rooted in tradition – Biblical tradition, Anabaptist tradition,” explained Theological Studies Director, Jeremy Bergen. “But we are always asking, what do these traditions mean for the contemporary world, the contemporary church, and for the many expressions of Christianity? We have a practical orientation, and we should increase our connections globally and inter-culturally. As we develop a certificate in Theological Studies, we will take the classroom to where ministry leaders are.”

Theological Studies is a two year graduate program that focuses on the study of Christianity and the mission of the Church in the world from an Anabaptist- Mennonite perspective within an ecumenical and inter-religious context. Established in 1987, TS became a conjoint program with the University of Waterloo in 2008. The TS program is designed for students preparing for ministry, further graduate work, or studying for personal enrichment. It offers Applied Studies (which focuses on ministry), Coursework, and Thesis options. The program works closely with MCEC and is greatly enriched by the pastors and leaders who teach courses or supervise students. To date, 42 of our 109 grads have gone on to provide leadership in Mennonite congregations or church institutions.

2014 Lebold Banquet speaker Roberson Mbayamvula stands with his wife as well as Ralph and Eileen Lebold.

2014 Lebold Banquet speaker Roberson Mbayamvula stands with his wife as well as Ralph and Eileen Lebold.

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