‘Pastoral Leadership Initiative’ Provides Substantial Financial Support for Seminarians


Grant from the Episcopal Foundation of Texas allows for students in need to receive scholarship funds to pay for housing, insurance and other costs

Seminary of the Southwest announces the receipt of a grant from the Episcopal Foundation of Texas (EFT) that will establish the ‘Pastoral Leadership Initiative.’ This transformational support will allow Southwest to provide meaningful cost-of-living support to seminarians pursuing their Master of Divinity or Diploma in Anglican Studies at Seminary of the Southwest. These funds will assist current and future students who qualify by financially subsidizing rent, health insurance, books, childcare and other costs associated with attending a residential seminary.

“Providing additional financial support for students at Seminary of the Southwest addresses the need for strong ordained leaders for the church of the future,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Dean and President. “When they come to Austin to be formed for leadership in this community, they will face less economic pressure during their studies and in their first years of ministry. We are grateful to the Episcopal Foundation of Texas for allowing us to be able to offer this significant support to those who are called to study with this dynamic faculty in Southwest’s distinctive programs.”

In combination with Southwest’s current scholarship programs that fully cover the cost of tuition, the immediate goal of the Pastoral Leadership Initiative is to remove the most significant financial barriers from those on their journey to priesthood. By including often overlooked costs like healthcare and childcare, the overarching goal of the fund is to help attract a broader, more diverse pool of candidates, including those with families or other financial restraint that make attending a residential seminary difficult.

“Our students give up their paying work and their homes to come to seminary, and every year their costs rise, especially health insurance for themselves and their families,” said the Rev. Hope Benko, Director of Enrollment Management and Admissions. “This support will help them plan for their future ministry without adding to their debt load year after year during seminary.  Knowing many of their costs will be covered will help free them to concentrate on their studies without the distraction of wondering how they’ll make ends meet.”

The funds created by the Pastoral Leadership Initiative will begin disbursement in the Fall 2022 semester. With growing calls to address shortages of priests – and to help the churchwide need for increased diversity – leadership at Southwest is buoyed and optimistic about the effects of this investment on both Southwest and The Episcopal Church as a whole.

“This is an important moment for Seminary of the Southwest and the broader Church,” said Kittredge “These leaders will make a difference to the church throughout the country and around the world.”

To learn more about the degree programs supported the Pastoral Leadership Initiative support, click here for MDiv or here for DAS, or contact the Rev. Hope Benko at hope.benko@ssw.edu.