Lexington, KY, Oct. 4, 2018 – Lexington Theological Seminary has received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative. This initiative supports a variety of religious organizations nationwide as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

Strengthening Pastoral and Congregational Ministry will help pastors in relationship with LTS sustain their ministries by helping them develop and refine habits and practices needed for effective ministry. The grant’s purpose and proposed goals and activities emerged from an examination of the Seminary’s existing programs, strategic imperatives and conversations with stakeholders, as well as the Seminary’s emerging research on bi-vocational ministers.

The project design is guided by two goals. Goal I will provide support for LTS graduates in years one through five of congregational ministry. This goal will be accomplished through a series of mentoring, clergy peer groups and educational activities for clergy and congregations. Goal II will focus on programs for clergy who self-identify as bi-vocational. The Seminary will build upon the research about bi-vocational ministry in rural and ethnic contexts gleaned from the Conversations on Stewardship and Finance grant previously awarded by Lilly Endowment to gain a richer understanding of the needs of this population. LTS will share its work with peers and colleagues to seek the wisdom of the community and provoke conversations about these issues and their impacts. Ultimately, LTS hopes to sustain long-term partnerships with its graduates and other constituencies through robust mentoring relationships, educational opportunities and the clergy peer groups.

“LTS is grateful to Lilly Endowment for this grant,” said President Charisse Gillett. “It will enable the Seminary to expand and enrich its mentoring program and educational programs to current students and alumni and the congregations they serve. Moreover, the award will permit the Seminary to delve more deeply into its research on bi-vocational ministry.”

“We are excited that Lilly Endowment recognizes Lexington Theological Seminary’s long-term commitment to supporting ministers in their first years of service to local congregations,” added Doug Lofton, chair of the LTS Board of Trustees. “This grant will allow LTS to assist clergy in their critical first years of ministry through providing mentoring relationships with experienced clergy as well as offering support in the changing reality of churches that need high-quality leadership but cannot afford full-time staffing.”

Lexington Theological Seminary is one of 78 organizations in 29 states that are taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions, including mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox.

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Strengthening Pastoral and Congregational Ministry, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

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 his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr. – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.

Lexington Theological Seminary is a covenant seminary of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), offering Master’s and Doctoral degrees and continuing education opportunities both online and onsite to clergy and lay leaders. It is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. For more information about educational opportunities at LTS, contact Rev. Erin Cash, Director of Admissions, at ecash@lextheo.edu.


Contact: Rev. Tanya J. Tyler, Director of Communications

Lexington Theological Seminary

(859) 231-1238