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Carole Mikita reportingThe Salt Lake Theological Seminary had cause for a double celebration today. The first is graduation, the second, the community helped the school meet a huge financial goal.
As the first graduating class of the Salt Lake Theological Seminary processed in, they heard the good news.
Dr. Jeffrey Silliman/ Chairman, Board of Directors: "I'm pleased to announce we achieved our goal one day before the deadline."
Their school is the only seminary for training Christian ministers and teachers in the Intermountain West. Student population has grown but not donations.
Last month, pastors and government leaders joined the seminary managers and staff for a news conference to ask for help with a huge deficit. The school needed to raise $500-thousand in less than a month. The community came through with $514-thousand.
Don McCullough/ President, Salt Lake Theological Seminary: "We not only reached the goal but we exceeded the goal, and we thank God and we thank so many people who have participated."
"Congregations themselves, that have been struggling to make it financially just jumped on board to say, 'We're going to commit $20-thousand to help you."
This really has been a story of small donations that have made a big difference. The one dollar bill from an elderly lady, a young man who hand delivered ten dollars. And then there was a check and letter from a Latter-day Saint woman, who said she didn't agree with what the seminary was teaching, but everyone there had been so nice to the people of her faith that she thought the school should remain open.
The students are grateful.
Cindy Shogren/ Master of Divinity graduate: "If the seminary had not been here, I either would not have gotten this kind of education or I would have had to move somewhere else. My heart is here in Utah."
With the financial support came the message - Salt Lake Theological Seminary is important to the community.
With the money raised, the Salt Lake Theological Seminary's president said he will be able to pay off its debts and build for the future.