Dear friend and supporter,
Merry Christmas and happy New Year! Yesterday morning at church, I was reminded that we are still in the midst of the “12 Days of Christmas,” so I hope that you have found opportunities to celebrate the birth of Jesus throughout this week.
Five Years of Growth
Thank you for your partnership with the Emerging Scholars Network! Over the past five years, ESN membership has grown from 2,300 to 3,800 (a 65% increase), and we have launched a number of significant new projects:
The ESN Day Ahead event at Following Christ 2008
The Getting Ready for Grad School seminar curriculum
The Emerging Scholars Review (2009-10) and the Emerging Scholars Blog
ESN seminars at Urbana 06, Urbana 09, and InterVarsity’s 2011 Staff Conference
Your support and prayers made all of this possible! I hope that you feel, as I do, that ESN has made great strides toward our vision of raising up the next generation of Christian scholars. Since 2007, more than 200 ESN members have begun or completed PhDs, more than 130 have become university faculty, and more than 30 have obtained tenure. Through ESN – and by extension, through your partnership – these young scholars have been connected with resources to help them renew the university. Praise God!
A New Chapter for Mike
It’s now time for me to begin a new stage in my personal vocation. On January 3, I will begin serving as Communications Manager for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is headquartered in downtown Cincinnati. You may have watched the National Spelling Bee on ESPN and ABC, seen the wonderful movies Akeelah and the Bee and Spellbound, or participated in the spelling bee yourself. I am honored and excited to become part of this uniquely American tradition, the largest and longest running educational program in the country. I will be overseeing the Spelling Bee’s website and social media presence, helping them communicate with local teachers and spelling bee sponsors, and working with the media in various capacities.
Over the past year, I have been seeking God’s direction for my career and calling, to discern what’s best for my family and my personal development. As I began to think that it might be time for a new direction, this opportunity with the Spelling Bee appeared unexpectedly. It then progressed so quickly, fit so well with my vocational desires, and addressed so many of our family’s needs, that it seems to have been a clear answer to prayer. (If you know my wife Elizabeth, you know that her prayers can be powerful.)
What’s Next for ESN
What does this mean for the Emerging Scholars Network? InterVarsity has asked me to stay on in a part time role writing and editing the Emerging Scholars Blog, as well as stewarding the transition of my other duties to new hands. I will also help InterVarsity search for new full time leadership for ESN. I plan on staying in this part time role as long as feasible.
For those of you who have been supporting ESN financially, thank you! Your gifts both supported the practical needs for my ministry and gave me frequent encouragement. On many occasions, when I felt that the work was struggling or when it was under spiritual attack, the knowledge of your commitment and prayers helped me persevere. There is truly no way that I can adequately express my gratitude.
Ongoing Support for ESN
Even though my role with ESN will be reduced, there will continue to be expenses associated with my work. If the Lord so leads you, may I ask you to continue your financial support? As you probably know, I have been seeking additional funding for ESN for several years. However, in my new part time role, my funding will move immediately from a monthly deficit to a monthly surplus. This funding will make several things possible:
Support for my ongoing role as writer for the ESN blog.
Payment of fundraising deficits from previous years.
A solid foundation of support for the next stage of ESN, including seed funding for future leaders of ESN.
Of course, if the Lord leads you to change your giving priorities because of this change, I will completely understand.
As I’ve done in years past, I will continue to stay in touch with you and keep you informed about the progress of ESN. If you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to speak with me about changing your level of financial support, please reach out to me. I have been trying to speak personally with as many of you as I can, but please don’t let my own slow progress stop you from calling me instead. Please call me at (859) 486-1327 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, thank you. My work with the Emerging Scholars Network has brought me in contact with so many dedicated men and women of God, and I have been blessed constantly by you.