Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has received a $250,000 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive this funding.
Personal financial pressures are severely limiting the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermining the effectiveness of too many pastoral leaders. To help address this issue, Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors.
All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada were invited to submit grant proposals. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) will use its funding to: (1) conduct research among students and alumni regarding the financial challenges they face; (2) collaborate with church and ministry partners to develop innovative solutions based on this research; (3) develop new education for the financial literacy of students and alumni; and (4) increase distance education capacity by implementing new “live” (synchronous) distance education courses.
Dr. H. Wayne Johnson, director of the MDiv program and the Lilly project at TEDS explains, “Trinity has always been concerned for the financial well-being of our students because it has a direct impact on their ministry opportunities and long-term fruitfulness for the sake of the gospel. Since 2008 we have responded to these challenges by dramatically limiting (and sometimes freezing) tuition increases as well as increasing the number of scholarships for masters programs.”
Noting that the challenge is systemic and requires creative thinking and institutional cooperation, Johnson said that with the grant TEDS will be able to better understand the issues and develop new collaborative solutions with church partners, particularly the Evangelical Free Church of America.
“That is why we are so grateful for this grant,” he said. “I believe it will result in some new models for financing and educating the pastors of tomorrow.”
“Pastors are indispensable spiritual leaders and guides, and the quality of pastoral leadership is critical to the health and vitality of congregations,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment.
“Theological schools play a critical role in preparing pastors and are uniquely positioned to address some of the economic challenges they face,” Coble said. “The Endowment hopes that these grants will support broad efforts to improve the financial circumstances facing pastoral leaders so that pastors can serve their congregations more joyfully and effectively,” said Coble.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.
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