Study to Examine Well-Being of Clergy

LEXINGTON, Ky., July 18, 2011 — The Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through the Ministry Life Choices Initiative at Lexington Theological Seminary is pleased to announce its partnership with the Flourishing in Ministry Project and Dr. Matt Bloom.

The Flourishing in Ministry Project focuses on the emotional welfare of clergy and their families. The goal of the project is to discover what makes pastors tick — and what ticks them off — in order to better understand how to bring joy to those who work so hard to bring it to others.  The project is another step in the work of University of Notre Dame Management Associate Professor Matt Bloom, who in 2009 was awarded a five-year, $500,000 Lilly Endowment grant to study the sense of well-being at work among people in the caring professions.

In Phase I of the study to specifically examine the well-being of clergy, Dr. Bloom will survey a cross-section of Disciples clergy regarding life and ministry. In Phase II, Dr. Bloom will conduct interviews with a targeted group of Indiana clergy.

“We want to understand well-being at a really deep level, rather than just forming a few survey questions,” said Bloom, who has worked with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the United Methodist Church. “We are trying to understand what constitutes well-being for clergy.  What are the factors that shape it? What are the outcomes?”

“We are pleased to facilitate this work and ministry.  This is an ideal partnership for the Pension Fund,” said James Hamlett, president of the Pension Fund. “We are keenly aware that the more we know about the daily lives of pastors and their families the more we are able to support and encourage them in the vocation of ministry.”

Disciples of Christ clergy and family members will have the opportunity to participate by registering during General Assembly this summer in Nashville, Tenn., July 9-13 at the Pension Fund booth.  “We are particularly interested in the ways in which families help to shape the ministerial context and I am hopeful that a sufficient number of clergy will register to share their experiences,” said Dr. Charisse L. Gillett, LTS vice-president and project liaison.

Lexington Theological Seminary President James P. Johnson added, “These kinds of creative partnerships offer the Seminary a chance to gather and apply relevant data that help us to prepare clergy for a 21st century church.”

For more information on the Flourishing in Ministry project and to register by July 22, please visit or call Ms. Bethany Cockburn at 574-631-4803.  For more information on the Ministry Life Choices Initiative and to discuss participation in the survey, please contact Dr. Charisse L. Gillett at

“We are grateful to Dr. Bloom for his work and to the Lilly Endowment for its willingness to fund this research.  Ultimately we hope to foster conversations that will engage the church in discussions on ways to nurture and sustain those called to pastoral ministry,” said Eugene Fisher, vice-president of member services for the Pension Fund.

Lexington Theological Seminary is an accredited graduate theological institution of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Consistent with the Disciples’ historic commitment to Christian unity, the Seminary is intentionally ecumenical with students, faculty, staff and trustees of various denominations. The Seminary has been preparing leaders for the church since 1865. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Beth Goins  (502) 316-4575,

Lexington Theological Seminary names new president

Dr. Charisse Gillett and board chair and presidentIn a special meeting this morning, July 7, Lexington Theological Seminary Board of Trustees named Dr. Charisse Gillett the Seminary’s 17th president, effective Sept. 1.

“Dr. Gillett brings vision and energy for leading LTS with its innovative approach for preparing men and women for congregational ministry. She brings a unique combination of experiences with higher education, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and LTS. Her demonstrated leadership abilities, her strategic and creative approach to issues, her commitment to students and congregations, and her effective communication style are all qualities that clearly make Dr. Gillett the right person to lead the Seminary as we move forward,” said LTS Board of Trustees member Leslie Geoghegan, who chaired the presidential search committee.

Dr. Gillett has served as Vice President of Administration and Special Projects at LTS since February 2010. Dr. Gillett has more than 20 years of successful administrative experience in higher education, including service at Transylvania University, Midway College, Robert Morris College and University of Northern Iowa. She holds a doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University. A former moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she has been a commissioned minister by the Christian Church in Kentucky since August 2010 and is Associate Minister at East Second Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where her husband, LTS D.Min. alumnus Dr. Donald Gillett II, serves as Senior Pastor. She is also a former LTS trustee and officer of the board.

“I am deeply committed to the church and to the work of the Seminary in shaping students for ministry,” Dr. Gillett said. “I am excited about the future of the Seminary, and the students and congregations we will be able to touch in the years to come as our program continues to grow in dynamic ways. We have a wonderful team of faculty and staff who are dedicated to our students and to the church, and I am looking forward to working closely with them and leading the Seminary as we move forward into the next page of our story.”

Dr. Gillett’s appointment is a historic one in the 146-year history of LTS. She is the first woman and first African-American to lead the Seminary as president.

“Dr. Gillett has an outstanding depth of knowledge and experience about the Seminary,” said LTS Board of Trustees president Rev. Gary Kidwell. “LTS has a storied history of shaping people for ministry, and with Dr. Gillett’s leadership, we look forward to an exciting future for the Seminary.”