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Back 57 Years Ago

Julian and Lois Wigen were farm kids who grew up in Minnesota. College took them to Grand Forks, North Dakota and then on to Wisconsin where Julian attended seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. While in seminary, Julian served student-charges in Tower Hill, IL, and Union Grove, WI. After graduating, Lois and Julian came back to North Dakota where he served the congregations of Tioga-Columbus and Enderlin-Sheldon. He was transferred to the South Dakota Conference in 1972 and served at Rapid City Knollwood Heights UMC, Milbank Parkview UMC, Redfield UMC, and Rapid City Canyon Lake UMC. In 1992, they moved to Mitchell, SD where Julian became the Director of the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation before retiring in 2003. Julian and Lois have been married for 64 years, have 3 daughters - Amy Moore (Matt) in Mitchell, SD, Diana Johnson (Lynn) in Big Lake, MN, and Malea Radermacher in Willmar, MN. They are also blessed with 10 grandkids, and 2 great grandkids.

Julian And Lois Wigen

As a young married seminary student, Julian and Lois experienced financial struggle. Julian recalls one particularly stressful time when they didn’t think they were going to financially be able to make it, he received a letter out of the blue. In it was a check for $100 and a note from a man at First United Methodist Church in Fargo, ND. The note mentioned that the man’s wife had recently passed away and he wanted to honor her memory by making a gift to a seminary student, with the stipulation that the money be used for personal needs and not for books or tuition. That letter and financial gift were an answer to the Wigens’ prayers as Julian was in desperate need of a suit to wear to Sunday morning services at the church he was serving. Julian also received a scholarship from the Wisconsin Conference that was a huge help in paying for his tuition his last year.

In 2008, the Wigens decided to open the A. Julian and Lois M. Wigen Endowment to support future clergy by providing scholarships for seminary students. As a young couple experiencing the financial struggles of attending seminary, Lois and Julian wanted to be able to pay it forward in appreciation of those who helped them. “This endowment is a way of saying thanks to someone who blessed me and my family at a special time and to share with others the blessings that God has given us as a part of the clergy family of the Dakotas.”

As the former director of the Foundation, Julian also saw how an endowment could benefit people year after year. He understood the difference it could continue to make long after he and Lois are gone.

Since opening their endowment, over $12,000 has been awarded in scholarships and 12 students have been helped with their seminary costs. The principal of the endowment has also grown from the initial $15,000 gift to currently over $38,000. When they established their endowment, the goal was to be able to provide a $500 scholarship to a seminary student each year. This past year, the Foundation was able to award a $1,500 scholarship from the A. Julian and Lois. M Wigen Endowment.

Janson Steffan 3

Janson Steffan, who is currently attending Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has been a scholarship recipient from the Wigen’s Endowment. “I am not sure I can summon the words to proportionally express my gratitude for your continued contributions to my education. Your support encourages me through difficult times, knowing that somebody somewhere believes in me as I labor to follow the call,” says Janson. “This investment in a future leader in the United Methodist Church brings joyful weeping. With all that I have, with all that I am, I thank you.”

The Wigens continue to make monthly gifts to their endowment to help it grow and make a bigger impact for years to come. “Perhaps some other seminary student will appreciate the help from such a gift as I did, back 57 years ago,” says Julian.


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000