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Columbia Seminary awarded congregational development grant

A nearly $1M grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will allow the seminary to help congregations do ministry in a post-pandemic world

by Columbia Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Columbia Theological Seminary President Leanne Van Dyk addresses the audience before the closing keynote at the Migration and Border Crossings conference. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, has received a grant of $969,528 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the “reKindle: Congregational Development in a Post COVID-19 Era” program through its Center for Lifelong Learning.

The reKindle Impact Grant will help realize the goal of the Thriving Congregation initiative by helping congregations focus on an identified need and chosen priority for ministry and congregational vitality. The initiative will gather local pastors and church leaders to engage in a theologically informed strategy to rekindle their congregational vitality in a post-COVID-19 era.

The reKindle program will resource them with a process to think theologically about their congregation, plan programs or strategies to initiate revitalization, and resource them with capacities and coaches to carry the projects through. The program will provide an Impact Grant to help congregations initiate and complete their programs.

There will be an open house for all who want to learn more about the grants from 11 a.m. through noon Eastern Time on January 7, 2021. More information, including registration, is available here.

Seminary President Leanne Van Dyk said, “Columbia Seminary is eager to serve congregations who are facing the challenges of ministry in a post-pandemic context. Pastoral leaders know that even after the crisis itself has passed, there will still be significant impacts in the broader culture and in the congregations. We are eager to take up the task of resourcing these churches and are grateful to Lilly Endowment for their generous support.”

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.

Columbia Theological Seminary is one of 92 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as nondenominational. Several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic and Asian-American traditions.

“In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership.

 About Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary is “cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, visit www.CTSnet.edu


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