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McCormick Theological Seminary receives $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative grant will support the seminary’s Trauma Healing Initiative

by McCormick Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

CHICAGO — McCormick Theological Seminary has been awarded a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in support of McCormick’s Trauma Healing Initiative (“THI”).

 The grant is part of the competitive second phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative (“Pathways Initiative”), a three-phase initiative launched in 2021. Pathways Initiative is designed to support efforts that strengthen religious institutions and networks and enhance their effectiveness and long-term sustainability by addressing key challenges and taking advantage of promising opportunities. Lilly Endowment has made more than $82 million in grants to theological schools through the initiative’s second phase. Ranging from $500,000 to $1 million, the grants will support efforts at 74 U.S. theological schools and 10 theological schools in Canada.

 The work being funded will expand the role McCormick can play in contributing to the broad-based formation of pastors who are responding to trauma in their congregations and communities, even as they and their congregations continue to experience collective trauma. The grant will allow McCormick to launch an institution-wide initiative that contributes to the broad-based formation of pastoral leaders to respond to trauma by focusing on trauma-informed pedagogy and public facing education about best practices for trauma-informed ministry.

David H. Crawford is president of McCormick Theological Seminary.

 President David H. Crawford states, “In the midst of multiple pandemics, pastors and congregations are struggling to cope with multiple traumas. As an advocate for community-engaged and community-based theological education, McCormick is uniquely equipped to provide trauma-informed education and support for post-pandemic ministry. We are deeply grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for its generous support as we inquire, identify and develop our capacity to meet these needs.”

 “In the afterlife of COVID-19, we must turn our institutional attention to the spiritual, psychological, social, cultural and economic impact as we educate students for ministry. COVID-19 has exacerbated and highlighted the traumatic consequences of longstanding systemic injustices of racism, food insecurity, unemployment, education inequity and other oppressions,” added Dr. Steed V. Davidson, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

 THI is led by Dr. Stephanie M. Crumpton, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at McCormick. Joining Crumpton in this effort will be Dr. Itihari Y. Toure, Associate Dean for Curriculum Development and Assessment and Stacy Williams, an adjunct faculty member.

Crumpton said, “This grant is a powerful acknowledgement of McCormick’s desire to make a distinct contribution to theological education that matters in real time for ministry. I am honored and excited to become the director for the initiative. Now it’s time to do what we imagined could be possible.”

 Davidson along with the Rev. Nannette Banks, Vice President of Community Engagement and Alumni Relations, will also assist in this phase of developing THI.

 “Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.”

 THI’s information-gathering process and analysis will deepen the relationships with McCormick’s growing circle of church and community partners and identify important connections that connect to what is needed to make the shifts to trauma informed theological education. The effort aligns with McCormick’s five-year strategic plan and continues the trajectory of McCormick’s expansion of community-building, repair, and healing programs that began with the launch of its Solidarity Building Initiative at Cook County Jail in 2018 and continued through the pandemic with the launch of its Center for Reparatory Justice, Transformation, and Remediation, and its online, multi-part Trauma Symposium.

 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 McCormick Theological Seminary

McCormick is a member of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) and an integral part of one of the world’s great centers of theological education and research. Accredited by both the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), McCormick seeks to embody and create a more just and compassionate world through rigorous academic study, practical experience, spiritual formation and an active, engaged learning community. Founded in 1829 and a leader in the Chicago faith community since 1860, it is a seminary with a long history of high academic standards and a commitment to social justice.

 McCormick is one of 12 theological institutions associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Part of the Reformed tradition is an ecumenical commitment and openness to dialogue with different perspectives within the larger church. McCormick’s student body represents a wide variety of Christian traditions including Baptist, UCC, AME, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, non-denominational students, and more. Common to all our students is a desire to live in a racially, ethnically, linguistically, and theologically diverse community rooted in our faith and in a shared commitment to service for the common good.


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