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Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation receives $1.25M grant to launch pastoral residency program

With the grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., OPSF is launching the Synergos program, which will serve churches across the Rocky Mountains

by Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation has received a $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Synergos Pastoral Residency Program.

The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the initiative to encourage the flourishing of congregations by helping them deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other, and contribute to the vitality of their communities and the world.

The Greek word συνεργός (synergos) means co-laborer or companion in work. The Synergos Pastoral Residency unites first-call pastors, key church leaders and congregants in the shared labor of discerning and responding to God’s call for the thriving of Christ’s church. The program will serve churches across the Rocky Mountains, focusing on congregations without access to consistent pastoral leadership. Through two-year pastoral residencies, churches will be grounded in faith formation and stabilized for the work of visioning for thriving futures. The Synergos Pastoral Residency is cohort based and provides wraparound services to ministers and congregational leaders through retreats and coaching, as well as guided evaluation, discernment and goal setting.

The Rev. Shelli Latham

OPSF’s President, the Rev. Shelli Latham, says, “Tall steeple churches have long provided valuable opportunities for early-call pastors to grow in skill and vocational identity. I am excited that OPSF can provide a similar opportunity in small congregations, a setting similar to where most pastors will spend their careers. Coupling services that connect and equip new pastors with resourcing for congregations in transition is a win-win — strengthening churches and equipping new pastors for fruitful ministries.”

The Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation is one of 105 organizations that has received grants though a competitive round of the Thriving Congregations Initiative. Reflecting a wide variety of Christian traditions, the organizations represent mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, peace church and Pentecostal faith communities.

“Congregations play an essential role in deepening the faith of individuals and contributing to the vitality of communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We hope that these programs will nurture the vibrancy and spark the creativity of congregations, helping them imagine new ways to share God’s love in their communities and across the globe.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the 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 supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking 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 the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.

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