Kemper School Awarded $30,000 Grant
The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Roanridge Trust for its groundbreaking work in providing local education of lay and ordained leaders. This was the largest of the 10 grants given, which together totaled $160,369.
The Roanridge Trust supports transformative work in the Episcopal Church, especially in ministry to small towns and rural areas. It awards yearly grants. This is the second year in a row that the school has received the largest Roanridge Trust grant awarded.
The school’s dean, the Very Rev. Don Compier, Ph.D., said the grant will be used to provide additional staffing to support the growing programs offered by the school, which provides quality formation and education for all ministries, lay and ordained.
Compier said, “I am deeply grateful that once again the Roanridge Trust has chosen to offer generous financial support to Bishop Kemper School for Ministry. We believe this demonstrates broad recognition of the fact that at BKSM, we are on the cutting edge of innovative theological education in support of the contemporary mission of the church in a changing world.”
While the Bishop Kemper School educates people to serve in a variety of ministry settings, bishops in the four owning dioceses – Kansas, West Missouri, Nebraska and Western Kansas – have said a pressing need is leadership development for clergy to serve small congregations, often in rural areas of the Midwest.
In announcing all the grants, the Rev. Sam McDonald, director of mission for the Episcopal Church, said, “It is exciting how the people of The Episcopal Church are engaging the mission opportunities in rural ministry settings. There is an incredible commitment to creative ministry. The vision for mission and ministries presented in these programs is inspiring.”
The school, which holds classes in Topeka once a month for 10 months a year, not only is less expensive than a traditional residential seminary, but students do not have to give up their jobs or uproot their families while they study. The current cost to attend is less than $2,000 a year. Priests normally study for three years and deacons for two. Courses to support a variety of lay ministries also are offered.
In the 1940s, the owner of a farm near Parkville, Mo., near the site of the current Kansas City International airport, gave his property to the Episcopal Church as a training center for clergy who would serve in rural areas, where most of the church’s members lived at the time.
The Roanridge Center continued its emphasis on preparing non-stipendiary clergy (those who would not earn their primary wage from church work) until it closed in 1977. The farm was sold, and proceeds created the Trust that continues to support ministries that the Center had served. Each year it provides about $160,000 for grants to support its purpose.