Carole Mikita reportingAfter two decades of religious education, the Salt Lake Theological Seminary is in financial trouble and may have to shut down.
The graduate students who attend want to become ministers or chaplains. They study at the only theological seminary in the Intermountain West.
In 2001, the board of directors purchased the building, enrollment increased. But after Sept. 11th, donations have fallen. They need a half million dollars in less than a month.
Dr. Don McCullough, SL Theological Seminary president: "We've set the goal of may 12th or we will have to seriously consider selling this building and reconsidering the mission of salt lake theological seminary..."
Pastors of several Christian denominations and community representatives are backing the campaign, calling the seminary a valuable resource.
Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "Regardless of one's belonging to any particular religious organization or not belonging to any...this theological seminary is a real rarity..."
Pamela Atkinson, Community Advocate: "This is a bit of a jewel in our community but a lot of people don't know about it...a lot of people don't know what it stands for and we need to educate people..."
Seventy students study here, but tuition only pays for 20% of their education.
The students here say one of the best things about their learning experience is the emphasis on diversity.
Sue Nageotte, SL Theological Seminary student: "Presbyterian, a Baptist, an Episcopalian... Somebody from a Christian reformed background... Some of our language classes we've had Latter-day Saints that are involved as well.... The opportunity to learn together and get to know each other in that context is really an amazing thing..."
Rob Matlak, SL Theological Seminary student: "I think it's really important not just to have knee-jerk reactions to different cultures, different religions... Different beliefs, etc.... And the seminary provides a place to just sit down and really just think through..."
They have a lot of money to raise in a short time, but all at the seminary say they have friends and they have faith.
The seminary has raised a little over 80-thousand dollars of the 500-thousand it needs to stay open.