Lexington Theological Seminary receives Lilly Grant

Lexington, Ky., Dec. 9, 2013 – LTS 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 initiative 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. LTS will use its funding to address financial literacy of ministry students, improve institutional practices, and to fuel research on bi-vocational ministers.

For the purposes of this grant, LTS will partner with the Council of the Colleges and Universities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Phillips Theological Seminary and The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky.

“The Seminary and these institutions have a mutual and targeted interest in exploring issues that permit the successful implementation of this project,” said the Rev. Gary Kidwell, LTS Board of Trustees chairman.

LTS President Charisse L. Gillett said that the Seminary is working to address the impact of financial challenges on ministry.

Prior to applying for this grant, the Seminary was already at work to understand and address these challenges by, among other things, requiring students to take a financial literacy course, enhancing mandatory counseling for all borrowers, targeted scholarship and tuition policies to those engaged in preparation for congregational ministry, and nurtured partnerships with the Pension Fund and The Center for Faith and Giving of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“In light of these conversations and the Seminary’s efforts related to institutional and financial sustainability, we believe this grant is well-timed and ideal,“ Gillett said.

“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.”


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 www.lextheo.edu.