To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
Psalm 63:2-4

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Stained glass windows from the Valparaiso University Chapel that were donated by Mr. Munderloh.

The Munderloh Foundation was founded in 1959 by Mr. and Mrs. Alfred C. Munderloh, members of St. James Lutheran Church of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, for the purpose of helping to fund the educational costs of men and women studying for the ministry and teaching careers in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS).

As a teenager, Mr. Munderloh’s ambition was to become a Lutheran minister, but because of family economic circumstances he was unable to fulfill that ambition. Instead, he eventually became Southeast Michigan sales manager for Investors Diversified Services (IDS, now Ameriprise Financial). Mr. Munderloh’s success as a salesman was based, in part, on his goal of having salespeople working under him, in turn, recruit other salespeople in order to expand the IDS business. He felt that those people familiar with the sales-end of the business were in the best position to recruit others to a sales career because of their familiarity with sales and marketing.

Near the end of his working career, Mr. Munderloh consulted with the pastor of St. James Lutheran Church, George E. Kurz, and several other members of the St. James congregation, expressing his desire to help financially support candidates for the Lutheran parish ministry in need of financial aid for their educations. With the advice of these people, the Foundation was established in June of 1959 and commenced operations by awarding scholarship grants to twenty-three college and seminary students intending to enter the Lutheran ministry or pursue teaching careers in the LCMS.

The idea of a “Challenge Grant” scholarship was instituted as a result of Mr. Munderloh’s work experience at IDS where he challenged his salespeople to recruit others to the mission of expanding the business. Hence, each scholarship grant recipient is asked to recruit another person to the parish ministry. This commitment is evidenced by the Foundation’s Challenge Grant Agreement.

The Foundation received its operating funds during the early years from contributions made by Mr. and Mrs. Munderloh. Following their deaths in the mid-1970s, substantially all of the assets of their estates passed to the Foundation to fund an endowment for its continued operations.

In the late 1970s, the St. James Lutheran Church congregation voted to leave the LCMS. The Foundation, however, continued to support LCMS colleges and seminaries as well as non-LCMS seminaries, with scholarship grants being distributed on roughly a one-third/two-thirds basis between the LCMS and non-LCMS schools. The Foundation phased-out scholarship aid to undergraduate students in the mid-to-late 1980s, recognizing the increased sources of financial aid available to them from other sources and the limited scholarship funds available to seminary students. St. James joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) upon its formation in 1988. The Foundation then began supporting students at several ELCA seminaries while continuing to support students at two LCMS seminaries, Concordia Theological Seminary - Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Concordia Seminary - St. Louis, Missouri. The Foundation currently supports students at three ELCA seminaries, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Chicago – Chicago, Illinois, Trinity Lutheran Seminary – Columbus, Ohio and United Lutheran Seminary – Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Scholarship grants are currently distributed on a roughly 50/50% basis between the LCMS and ELCA seminary students.

Today, the Foundation annually awards grants of $4,000 each to seminary students. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over 7,300 grants totaling about $11.5 million.
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