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Presbyterian Foundation receives a third grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Grant allows Foundation to make technology and training grants to pastors who serve small churches, congregations of color

by Robyn Davis Sekula, Presbyterian Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Presbyterian Foundation has received a grant from Lilly Foundation Inc. to help pastors serving small churches and congregations of color purchase technology. (Contributed photo)

JEFFERSONVILLE, Indiana — The Presbyterian Foundation has received a third grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to allow the Foundation to make technology and training grants to pastors who serve small congregations and congregations of color in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

This new grant will enhance a suite of services gathered under the Foundation’s Church Financial Literacy and Leadership program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on another area of need in church life,” says the Rev. Dr. Tom Taylor, President and CEO of the Presbyterian Foundation. “While some congregations could pivot to online services and meetings easily or buy the equipment needed to make the switch, others simply didn’t have the resources. It is our hope to close the technology gap so that small congregations, especially those that may have been marginalized or those that serve primarily people of color, can reach their congregants — not just during pandemic times, but anytime services are needed. Every Presbyterian deserves to be able to attend worship and receive pastoral care from their pastor, and technology can make that happen in times like these.”

The initial Lilly Endowment grant the Foundation received in December 2015 allowed the Foundation to develop pilot programs that provided tools and grants to assist a small group of churches and pastors in discovering new ways to fund their ministries. As part of that work, the Foundation developed Stewardship Navigator, a website providing stewardship resources to congregations at no charge, and Church Financial Leadership Academy, an online educational website allowing pastors to update their knowledge of financial matters. Additionally, a one-on-one coaching program is helping pastors who need deeper guidance.

“Many pastors serving under-resourced congregations pay for technology upgrades out of their own pockets, much as teachers pay for supplies for their classrooms,” says the Rev. David Loleng, Director, Church Financial Literacy and Leadership for the Presbyterian Foundation. “We want to ease that burden for those pastors. We hope that this might also put tools in their hands that will enable them to participate in out other programs, and thus contribute to the sustainability of their congregations through good practices and knowledge.”

The new grant

The Lilly Endowment Inc. just announced the latest round of grants funding. The Foundation will now build an application process to receive applications for grants for technology needs and training.

The first $250,000 from the Lilly Endowment will simply be awarded as part of the grant program at the Foundation. The second $250,000 will require matching funds.

Grants will be available both for equipment and for training; grant amounts will be up to $5,000. A diverse committee comprised of people who represent those communities will review and approve grants. That committee has not been selected yet.

Applications are expected to be available in spring 2022 and will be publicized on the Foundation’s website. If you’d like to be notified when the grant applications are made available, complete this form.

Lilly Endowment grants background

The grants are part of Lilly Endowment’s commitment to supporting the pastoral leadership development of clergy serving in congregations across the United States.

The Presbyterian denomination, like other mainline faiths, faces declining membership, raising financial challenges for congregations and creating a need for pastors who are inspired and equipped to bring a new spirit of faithful leadership to congregations. Increasingly, pastors are feeling the effects of financial challenges facing churches.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

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 sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their  pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

About the Presbyterian Foundation

The Presbyterian Foundation gathers, stewards and distributes funds for mission. A vital part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Foundation strengthens congregations and related mission and ministry efforts by developing gifts and managing funds on their behalf.

Robyn Davis Sekula is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Presbyterian Foundation. She is a ruling elder in the PC(USA) and member of Highland Presbyterian Church. She can be reached at

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