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Bahls and other college presidents to fund water well

March  22, 2013

President of Augustana College Steven Bahls and his wife, Jane, have joined with other presidents of the Lutheran colleges and universities in the United States and Canada to fund the construction of a water well in Ethiopia. The effort was led through the presidents’ association, Lutheran Educational Conference of North America (LECNA).

“Our purpose is to undertake a worthwhile mission project together and inspire our own students in the process,” said Wayne Powell, chair of the LECNA board and president of Lenoir-Rhyne University. “Our campuses stress service learning, and we are driven to find ways to engage our students both in global concerns and ways to live out our faith in service to others,” Powell continued.

Students at four Lutheran colleges—Concordia University Texas, Texas Lutheran, Concordia University Irvine and Wartburg—already have undertaken projects to construct wells in Ethiopia. The hope is that more student groups will follow their presidents’ lead.

A year ago, the presidents voted to promote water projects on as many campuses as possible through Water to Thrive (W2T), an organization that grew out of a Lutheran Sunday school class focused on the critical need for and importance of clean water worldwide. LECNA is partnering with W2T to implement a water project for an Ethiopian community called Wana (CPS 13.378 Lat – 39.1543 Lon), which has never had safe water. W2T is a relatively new faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the global water crisis while raising the funds needed to construct water wells for those who desperately need them in rural Africa. In just five years, W2T has funded 300 water projects, bringing clean water to more than 150,000 people.

President Bahls and Jane were lead donors in the LECNA campaign. “Access to clean water is the most essential element needed in any healthy community,” said Jane, who conceived of the presidents’ effort.

She added, “Through this project, the presidents and their spouses at Lutheran campuses are carrying that message to tens of thousands of students and constituencies that surround our institutions. The need is huge and the message is simple.”

The Lutheran Educational Conference of North America is an association of 40 Lutheran colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. LECNA is celebrating its 104th year of service. See

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833