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Detroit-area couple supports student aid with more than $1 million

by Louisville Seminary | Oct 24, 2008

By Michelle E. Melton

Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. —Within one year of establishing an endowed Scholarship for Excellence at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., have set up a series of scholarships that will fund 27 scholarships over the next five years.

The additional scholarships are made possible through a gift of $540,000 from the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation. Through their commitment to student aid, the Schaaps are providing scholarship support for nine students over the next five years. Each scholar will receive $60,000 over his or her three years of theological study.

The Schaaps’ contributions to the Scholarships for Excellence Program at Louisville Seminary originate from Dr. Schaap’s deep desire to see more pastors like his father in congregational ministry. It is an effort to support President Dean K. Thompson, the Board of Trustees, and the Strategic Vision Plan in building an aggressive endowed scholarship program that will greatly diminish student debt upon graduation. The Schaaps hope their commitment will also inspire other supporters of theological education, who seek to place exceptionally prepared leaders in congregations, to participate in the scholarship-building effort.

“What Paul and Carol have done in their short time with Louisville Seminary is truly inspirational and aspirational. They have laid a foundation upon which we can reach higher in our calling to prepare men and women as compassionate and skilled pastoral leaders,” said Thompson.

In 2007, shortly after Paul Schaap joined Louisville Seminary’s Board of Trustees, the Schaaps committed $400,000 through their Foundation to endow a Scholarship for Excellence, which provides $20,000 each year to a student who demonstrates a promise for pastoral leadership through his or her academic excellence, leadership ability, interpersonal relationship skills, theologically inspired creatively, and Christian vision. By 2012 their gift will mature and provide in perpetuity annual scholarship support of at least $20,000.

As part of their original commitment, the Schaaps also are providing $20,000 per year during a five-year maturation period so that the Schaap Scholarship will immediately benefit a student preparing for ministry, while allowing crucial time for the endowment to grow.

With their new gift, the Schaaps have provided $1.04 million for student aid in less than one year.

Master of Divinity student Rebecca Barnes-Davies became the first recipient of the Rev. Arthur O. Schaap Presidential Endowed Scholarship in 2007. Barnes-Davies followed her call to ministry out of her experiences in environmental and social justice ministries and at the encouragement of several mentors.

The first three additional scholarships were awarded at the beginning of the 2008-2009 academic year to Linda Lotspeich from Frisco, Texas, who hopes to continue a ministry in new church development after she graduates; Jenny Stevens, a 2004 graduate of Western Oregon University with degrees in Art and Spanish; and Brennan Pearson, a 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan who has been involved in youth and camping ministry and is serving as a student campus minister at Bellarmine University in Louisville as part of his field education experience. All of the Schaap Scholars are active in the worship and community life of Louisville Seminary.

The endowed Scholarship for Excellence and the additional nine Schaap Presidential Scholarships were created in honor of Paul’s father, Rev. Arnold O. Schaap, who graduated from Louisville Seminary in 1946.

Arnold Schaap was raised in Holland, Mich. Following seminary, he accepted his first call as pastor of Ligonier Presbyterian Church, Ligonier, Ind., where he served until 1951. From 1951 through 1963 he served as the pastor of Granger Presbyterian Church and for four years as assistant minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church in South Bend, both in Indiana. He and his wife, Helen (Buskers), raised three children, two sons and a daughter, during their years in parish ministry.

“My father loved being a pastor,” recalled eldest son Paul Schaap, who accompanied his father on many pastoral visits. “I was expected to go with him,” he said.

The churches were quite modest, Paul said, but his father ministered with an energy required for large city churches. Following his Indiana pastorates, the Schaaps moved back the Michigan, where Rev. Schaap served as a chaplain for the Halbritter Funeral Home in Niles.

Like his father, Paul enrolled at Hope College in Holland, Mich., and earned a degree in chemistry, the beginning of his life’s career. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard and following graduation, joined the faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. During his 30 years on the Wayne State faculty, Dr. Schaap conducted research on chemiluminescent compounds that can produce light.

In 1987, he formed Lumigen Inc. to research, develop, manufacture, and market the compounds for commercial use and medical research and diagnostics. Today, Lumigen helps many around the world as its products are used for research, including the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Though Paul Schaap did not follow his father’s specific calling, his experience of Rev. Schaap’s pastoral ministry has deeply influenced him to want the same experience for other church members. In establishing Scholarships for Excellence, the Schaaps are leading the way in preparing men and women for participation in the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ in the world.

For information about the Scholarships for Excellence program at Louisville Seminary, contact the Office for Seminary Relations or the Office for Recruitment and Admissions, toll-free, 800.264.1839 or visit www.lpts.edu/mygift.

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