The John D. and Ruth Hogenson-Rutford Endowment for Church Relations Fund

The Gustavus Office of Church Relations


Why Endow Church Relations Now?

At the time the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was newly forming, Gustavus Adolphus College created the Gustavus Association of Congregations (GACAC) as a way to maintain the grassroots, relational connections at the congregational level so valued by the Gustavus community for living rootedness in Lutheran identity. What began in 1989 with 290 ELCA congregations today has grown to more than 550 ELCA congregations across 27 synods! Working in partnership with the GACAC member congregations, the Gustavus Church Relations outreach has made Gustavus a leader among the ELCA colleges in actively working to collaborate with congregations to develop and share resources that serve our shared mission to young adults and society.

With the changing landscape in the United States impacting churches and higher education we believe that now is the time to invest even more in this important network of relationships. Will our Church have colleges that support this mission? Gustavus Adolphus College lives out the “yes” answer with a desire to do even more.

To this end, we have created the John D. and Ruth Hogenson-Rutford Endowment for Church Relations Fund as a means for providing permanent funding for the Gustavus Church Relations staff and program and to expand the programming outreach for the network.

Critical to the success of this effort is 100% participation by the Gustavus Association of Congregations member congregations. Will our colleges have a Church that supports mission? By participating in this effort, you also are answering “yes” and investing in a structure through which we can do even more together.

Strand of Three

A Strand of Three for Lutheran Identity

Christ Chapel Endowment Funds, provide permanent funding for staff and program support for the ongoing campus ministry of the Chaplains’ Office.

The Drell and Adeline Bernhardson Distinguished Chair of Lutheran Studies, an endowed position. Established in 1996, it was the first of its kind at any college related to the Lutheran church. Today ten of the ELCA Colleges have an endowed chair similar to this chair.

The John D. and Ruth Hogenson-Rutford Endowment for Church Relations Fund, created in 2014 to provide permanent funding for the staff and programming that serves Gustavus and the Gustavus Association of Congregations.

Church Relations Resources for Congregations

  • The Exploring Religious Questions Series offered twice a year is an eight-week, in-depth study course serving approximately 160 people annually.
  • Overnight and day retreats at Gustavus are offered each year for approximately 1,800 youth and 900 adults.
  • Youth leadership development events held annually provide training for close to 100 high school students and youth directors from across the region.
  • Congregations are served by Gustavus Youth Outreach, a Gustavus student organization supported by Church Relations that sends teams of college students to serve youth ministry programs in the congregations with games, songs, and Bible study.
  • Congregations and synod staff leaders have access to resources for educational speakers, preachers, and musicians.
  • Gustavus Financial Aid offers financial scholarships for Lutheran youth. In 2014-15, 125 students from 77 GACAC member congregations received the annually renewable Lutheran Leadership Award and 100 students from 60 congregations received scholarship funds from their home congregation that were matched by the Gustavus Matching Scholarship.