2022 VIP Event Recap

Posted on Oct 03, 2022 by Jon Dize - Christian Leadership - Funding the Mission - Lutheran Spirit - News and Events

2022 VIP Event a Success

On September 17, over 250 Lutheran education supporters and sponsors descended upon the Kruse Plaza north of Fort Wayne for the 3rd Annual VIP Event to support The Lutheran Schools Partnership. We call this our “Very Important Partnerships” event because we highlight the important groups and individuals that STAND for Lutheran education in Northeast Indiana. Together these friends of TLSP donated through event sponsorships and outright gifts, that with a generous match from The Lutheran Church Extension Fund, totaled over $120,000 to strengthen our efforts to support 350 educators at 19 schools responsible for nearly 4,000 students every year

(pictured, l to r: State Senator Dennis Kruse, Mollie Hemingway, State Representative Dave Heine)

We started the evening by highlighting what TLSP does (something we rarely do) with a combination video featuring 6 area board members, staffers, and principals who shared why they appreciate The Lutheran Schools Partnership. You can see that video here and the full set of testimonials over the past several years here.

Next came our featured partner, Mollie Ziegler Hemmingway, who shared how important Lutheran schools have been and will continue to be as an important partner in her life. Born to a Mormon mother and unchurched father, Mollie’s father, Larry, was educated at University Hills Lutheran School in Colorado and at age 11 announced that he would become a Lutheran pastor, which he did until his retirement! His wife, Mollie’s mother, was a Lutheran school teacher, too.

Next, Mollie shared the impact of Immanuel Lutheran School in Alexandria, Virginia, the school where her children currently attend. She chronicled how the church almost voted to close the school because it was, “Barely Lutheran, its academic focus was lacking… with a little dollop of Jesus on top.” But then something wonderful happened - school leaders decided that if they were going to have a school, they were going to work hard to improve it. First, the school became the primary focus of the church again. They also decided to hire faithful Lutheran teachers and revamp their curriculum to include the Lutheran perspective at varying degrees in every subject. As Mollie put it, “It took a Herculean effort from administrators and faculty and those who supported them, but we managed to double the size of the school and built a waiting list.”

Mollie then reminded attendees that, “I really get the feeling that you all don’t quite understand what a special and unique thing you have in Fort Wayne, with so many wonderful congregations and schools.”

Mollie ended her talk with the following points: “Education offers Lutherans perhaps our best hope to make a positive, long-term impact for our church, community, and country. But as ever, our abiding concern should be the salvation of future generations, and here education is an indispensable tool for inculcating and spreading the gospel. We neglect this obligation and opportunity at our peril.

It takes many people and resources to have a successful Lutheran school. And that can never just be about finances; it’s also about the priority of God’s Word, a curriculum that supports our faith rather than undermines it, and the creation of a community that loves and supports each other in good times and bad.”

Rev. Dennis McFadden shared with attendees via video why he considers donations to The Lutheran Schools Partnership as “Money Well Spent” as attendees were asked to consider joining with Rev. McFadden and writing a check or making an online gift.

We ended the evening by highlighting a very important partner, Mrs. Natalie Reynolds, our 2022 Educator of the Year. Watch this video and see why she notes that, “This is what I was called to do”.

Mark Muehl also noted, “This year’s TLSP VIP event emphasized the uniqueness of Lutheran Schools in a world where Christianity is more and more under attack. Your support of TLSP encourages our growing work to bolster the ministry of our member schools. I’m more convinced than ever that families need Lutheran schools. The threats to faith and life are real so education enveloped with Christ is paramount.”

Support of TLSP is essential to the Very Important Partnerships we have with leaders like Mollie, Rev. Bart Day (CEO of LCEF, our keynote in 2021), Rev. Gregory Seltz (Executive Director of Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, our keynote from 2020), and our current educators, parents, and alumni. This support says, “We agree! Lutheran schools are essential!

As our keynote finished, “We face troubling times ahead – proper Lutheran schools are our greatest hope for rising to meet those challenges. Be bold, be diligent, and enjoy the work that God has graciously given you to do.”

Your continued support will ensure that the Lutheran education that began in our region 1837 will continue to thrive into the future. Visit www.veryimportantpartnerships.org or use the QR code to make an online gift. Our address is 1601 St. Joe River Drive, Fort Wayne, 46805.

P.S. We will also soon post details for the VIP 2023 event. If you would like to be a sponsor in 2023, contact Jon at #260-203-4510 or jond@tlspartnership.org.