When Dr. Joe Ridenhour retired from the HMF Board of Directors in 1995 after 42 years of service he was the last of the original founders serving on the Board. His leadership, along with the other founding directors certainly set the tone for outstanding ministry by both Lutheran Men who established the original Loan and Gift fund back in the 20’s and Home Mission Foundation in 1953.
With the 50th anniversary of Home Mission soon to be celebrated in 2003, the leadership of Lutheran Men and HMF felt that it would provide an opportunity to honor the work of the original 12 founders in some significant way.
Dr. Ridenhour had reminded men at the annual convention in 1988 of the Charter mission statement which included assisting congregations in financing church buildings…and later providing financial support for persons called to parish ministry. So what might the recognition be?
After prayerful consideration, discussion and reflection on the current ministry areas, Lutheran Men and HMF decided that a professorship in Bible and Mission at Southern Seminary would be a logical focus consistent with the building of churches, assisting those persons called to ministry and now encouraging those faculty trained to teach those entering the ministry. After consultation with the administration at Southern Seminary and gaining their support, it was decided that Lutheran Men and HMF would accept the challenge of establishing the professorship with a $1 million endowment. In 1995, an initial gift of $160,000 was presented to the seminary to be placed in escrow until the full amount could be raised by 2003 to celebrate the 50 year history of Home Mission Foundation.
In spite of the commitment of the leadership and generous support of numerous individuals from both organizations, the $1 million goal was not achieved by 2003. However, 3 years later, in the spring of 2006, a check funding the original commitment was presented to Seminary President Fred Reisz as part of the 175th anniversary celebration of the Seminary, thereby officially establishing THE NORTH CAROLINA LUTHERAN MEN AND HOME MISSION FOUNDATION PROFFESSORSHIP IN BIBLE AND MISSION– given in recognition of the leadership and dedication of the original founders of HMF.
The joint project between HMF & Lutheran Men was called an astronomical venture and something no other men’s group has ever done. A follow-up celebration dinner was held in August 2006 honoring the original founders and their families along with the leadership of NCLMM.
The Rev. Dr. James Thomas was the first faculty member to be recognized with the professorship and the current holder is Rev. Dr. Brian Peterson.
The endowment is open ended meaning additional gifts may be added at any time by either contacting Home Mission Foundation or the Seminary.