Monday, October 05, 2009

Kern Family Foundation -

I just spent the weekend with 38 students from 8 different seminaries who are all in their 3rd and final year in the Master's of Divinity program. We spent 3 days together at Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI.

We are all a part of the Kern Scholars Initiative. This is a scholarship program financed by Bob and Pat Kern, two generous octogenarians who have this stated goal: Bob and Pat Kern are committed to helping Kern Scholars realize their dreams of becoming pastors whose leadership positively transforms congregations and communities to the glory of God. They care deeply about the Kern Scholars’ spiritual development, educational program, and ministry experience. Bob and Pat have been blessed. They celebrate a shared sense of responsibility and gratitude as they seek to be good stewards of their resources.

I have been blessed to have the tuition for 3 years' of seminary to be fully paid for by the Kern family. They are kingdom-minded people who want to see God's kingdom manifest in this country who understand such endeavors require the leveraging of our time, talent, and treasure.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Kern. (not for just the $$, but for setting a good example of investing in the kingdom!)


Anonymous said...

As a theological student, I would have been intrigued to have read your Biblical reflection on my observation regarding Robert Kern. Indeed, he has been generous to seminaries around the US. However to state that his gift rises to the level of a "sacrifice" is not theologically appropriate nor correct. When you enter the ministry of the local church, this distinction will become critical as you reflect on the Biblical mandate of stewardship. My premise is that while such gifts as Mr. Kern's are always appreciated, they may not rise to the level of the widow's mite. I invite your response to encourage healthy theological dialogue.

Matt Proctor said...

I have made it a standing principle that I do not respond to anonymous comments. Anonymity prevents me from speaking to you because I do not know your heart, past, beliefs, etc. To speak to you not knowing you I feel could lead me to speak foolishly.

Anonymous said...

Matt, in many ways you demonstrate wisdom. Yet, I assure you that we do not know each other and have never met. I am a fellow evangelical believer who holds several degrees from fellow seminaries around the United States. I discovered your blog by accident while doing research on a paper and possible book on the topic of Christian stewardship. One of the points in the writing is that as American evangelicals we have neglected the meaning of the term sacrifice. One illustration of this relates to the increased formulation of foundations that claim to give in a generous or "sacrificial" way, yet whose level of giving in comparison to their true worth amounts to little. It's the same thing that occurs when a famous Christian athlete who makes $7 M a year gives a Christian group $200,000 and they are thanked for their sacrifice. My point is that American evangelicals have a long way to go when it comes to learning the freedom of true sacrifice. My travels to many third world countries have enabled me to see this in action. Again, while I appreciate Bob and Pat Kern (I have met them and talked to them on several occasions), I do not view their ministry as being "sacrificial." According to IRS documents their foundation is currently worth over $400 M, yet their giving to evangelical causes is rather limited. Are we thankful? Yes. Are they sacrificing? No! Yet, I must admit that neither do I always sacrifice in the ways I can. Growing in grace with you, John McDonald (My name used for publishing is different...sorry, but some things can't get out before publication.) Keep studying!

Matt Proctor said...

Thanks for your thorough comment. It does make sense and with your definition, I think you are right that the word "sacrificial" may be an over statement. I would argue, however, that just because you don't give to evangelical organizations, one's giving can still be quite kingdom-centered. Education is a kingdom principle I believe. So is supporting quality and honest work (engineering, garbage workers, or whatever). So is the development of character and good policy. (All programs related to the Kern Foundation, per my understanding.)

I take your counsel to be careful to not give too much adulation just b/c someone signs a big check. That being said, I too have met the Kerns. They are humble, hardworking people who hope to see this country seek the Lord. I do honor them; I do thank them; I do pray for them. I'll leave it to God to decide if they have "sacrificed" for His work.

Thanks for engaging me. I have a lot to learn, and I appreciate those who have taken the time to chew on big truths. Blessings.