The Evangelical Theological Faculty (ETF) in Leuven is a small-scale university in Belgium that focuses on training theologians and Christian leaders in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ in the church and society worldwide. In this way, we aim to deepen, strengthen and equip the international Protestant evangelical movement academically.
The 21st century presents specific and complex challenges to the Christian faith. A thorough reflection on the Christian faith and sound scholarly formation are therefore fundamental for the coming generation of Christian leaders. Within ETF’s interdenominational and international faith community, we educate and prepare students to find and assume their roles.
‘I have chosen the ETF because the combination of Christian spirituality and solid theological education at the university level, is very inspiring and powerful.’ – Nienke, student
About 230 students study at the ETF. In terms of operations, the university was always able to support itself through 2021, although resources were limited. Since the energy crisis in 2022, a deficit has unfortunately emerged. Therefore, expansions or additional investments are basically only possible by attracting additional funding. The ETF has two important new projects for which it is urgently seeking funding in the 2021-2024 period. Additional funders are needed for these. The first project is called ‘international scholarships’; the second project is called ‘green campus’.
Project 1 – International Scholarships to build the global church
Students like Nienke are privileged. They live in a Western European country where the government is subsidizing our education system. Everyone has the opportunity to study as a result. But the ETF also receives dozens of applications every year from developing countries where talented candidates would particularly like to study at the ETF. However, they can’t fall back on a scholarship in their country, making access to international studies unattainable for them. Unless…the ETF can offer them a ‘sponsored’ study place.
The ETF seeks to serve churches and society worldwide by training theologians and Christian leaders. The Protestant evangelical movement today is growing very rapidly in countries where there is still little or no theological training at the academic level. Our goal is to be able to award thirty international scholarships annually to students from regions where there are few or no opportunities to pursue master’s or doctoral programs in theology. In this way, we invest in talented people, and – since most graduates return to their home countries – we also indirectly impact the faith communities and educational institutions locally.
The ETF has developed an adequate selection procedure in which students are selected who have high success rates and who envision a social position in which they will achieve direct impact. Moreover, residential and/or distance learning is proposed according to the individual capabilities of students. Most students come from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.
The ETF is looking for partners who want to make these scholarships possible through a financial investment in our “International Scholarship Fund. Depending on the situation, a scholarship covers the following: travel expenses, accommodation, tuition, book fees, health insurance and pocket money. The average scholarship is €7,500 – €10,000 per year. In the coming years until 2024, the ETF aims to offer at least 30 talented international students a chance to study at the ETF. Initially, the ETF is now looking for a number of donors to make €100.000 available for this purpose. Through MissionInvest, €36.000 has been received for this project. We are still looking for donors to provide the remaining €64,000!
Project 2 – Green Campus
As ETF, we believe that as a Christian institution we should be good stewards of creation and the resources we have received. We therefore have the ambition to change from a gray campus into a green campus over the next few years. On the one hand through infrastructural changes and on the other hand through awareness and behavioral change of students, staff and residents of the student residence that should result in significantly lower energy consumption. We are convinced that this combined approach will actually contribute to the reduction of our ecological footprint.
Looking at current state of the buildings, we see a lot of opportunities to make our infrastructure more sustainable. Although the faculty building (1958) and the student residence (1925) look beautiful, they are not very sustainable due to the age of the buildings. In terms of infrastructure, therefore, our ambitions include the following:
Around the summer of 2023, it will become more clear what the actual benefits of the 1st solar panel project will be. Depending on that and further planning regarding the campus, we may want to start a 2nd solar panel project in late 2023. In terms of financing, ETF will be able to cover about half of the cost itself; for the other 50% (approximately €55,000) MissionInvest will be called on to assist.
Project 3 – Support ETF organization
With tight control over the numbers and a limited staff, the ETF has always been able to support itself financially. However, as mentioned briefly above, the 2022 energy crisis is having a significant impact on the ETF’s financial numbers. High energy prices and government mandated wages to rise with inflation put a significant hole in the operating budget. To compensate for that, an additional €300.000 per year in donations is needed to balance the budget. Through the network of MissionInvest we will look for parties who would like to structurally support the mission of ETF for several years.
With the ‘international scholarship fund’, the ETF will be able to support Christian denominations, training institutes and other organizations around the world that, for a variety of reasons, face a shortage of highly trained leaders. International students of the ETF will end up in influential positions as pastors, academic deans, teachers, missionaries or leaders in NGOs.
With the ‘Green Campus’ project, the ETF expects to make its buildings more sustainable and save substantially on its energy costs in the coming years. This will be an important contribution to structurally strengthen ETF’s financial base.
Fundraising and how can you get involved?
MissionInvest is very enthusiastic about the ETF as a Bible-believing academic institution. It plays an important role in the formation of Christian leaders. We know a number of students personally and have first-hand knowledge of its positive impact! In addition, our enthusiasm also comes from the good cooperation we have had since 2021. Therefore, MissionInvest would like to help the ETF by realizing at least €50.000 per year in the period 2021-2024.
Are you also excited about ETF’s mission? Then let’s have a conversation about the possibilities! You can support them through three projects: sponsorship, solar panels and general support. Every donation is very welcome!