Statement issued Wednesday by Concordia Theological Seminary:
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, are beneficiaries of a $2.48 million bequest from a Texas donor, the largest estate gift received from a single individual to support future pastors, missionaries and chaplains attending either seminary.
Thelma O. Pietsch designated the bulk of her estate to be divided equally between the two seminaries and used to establish a permanent student financial aid endowment at each institution.
The endowments are named in loving memory of her parents, Andrew and Martha Pietsch, and in recognition of Thelma’s generosity. Miss Pietsch chose to care for her aging parents and never married. She operated a farm and ranch in Fayette County, Texas. A lifelong Lutheran, she was an active member of St. Michael Lutheran Church, Winchester, and quietly provided cash scholarships to local students. She was known for the care she provided to her animals, providing veterinary care until each animal’s death from natural causes.
Each seminary received approximately $1.24 million which, as invested funds, will provide approximately $60,000 annually for tuition assistance to students preparing for ordained ministry in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Income earned by the two endowed funds will be distributed to qualifying seminarians by each seminary’s financial aid office in accordance with instructions outlined by Miss Pietsch in her will, seminary policies and state laws governing the prudent management of endowed funds. No special application process beyond the filing of each seminary’s financial aid application form is required.
"The entire seminary family rejoices in the faith and support of Miss Pietsch. Such support will bring blessings to the church through able and faithful pastors for generations," offered Dr. Dean Wenthe, President, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
"Thelma’s gift, like every gift to endowment, offers great hope for generations of future pastors, missionaries and chaplains," said Dr. Dale Meyer, President, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. "Through her estate plan, she created a fund that will continue to support seminary education long after the Lord called her to himself. While we are not able to thank her personally for this bequest, we give thanks to God for leading Thelma to invest so generously in both of our seminaries."