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The PMA’s Office of Christian Formation awarded $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to equip and support faith formation in households

The ambitious project will engage leaders in holistically supporting parents and caregivers who pass on faith to the next generation

by Presbyterian News Service

Lilly Foundation Inc. has awarded the Office of Christian Formation a $1.25 million grant to enhance the sharing of faith in households. (Contributed photo)

The Office of Christian Formation of the Presbyterian Mission Agency has received a grant of $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to come alongside parents, caregivers, churches and worshiping communities to provide skills, opportunities for connection and relationship building, and the resources needed to enhance and prioritize sharing faith in households.

The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to help parents and caregivers share their faith and values with their children.

“We have seen how important it is that parents and caregivers have the skills and confidence to share their faith with their children,” says Stephanie Fritz, coordinator for the Office of Christian Formation, who oversaw the grant application process. Fritz noted how the Covid pandemic “illuminated the critical importance of faith formation in our households.”

The effort is focused on parents, caregivers and leaders of existing congregations or new worshiping communities. Proposed over a five-year timeframe, “the program is designed to have many entry points and ways to engage,” says Fritz, who highlighted several initiatives from cohorts equipping home-based, intergenerational faith formation, multigenerational retreats for congregations and households, topical skill building sessions for parents and caregivers, and a digital platform for resources accessible to the denomination and beyond.

According to its accepted proposal, the Office of Christian Formation seeks to resource families that include two-parent households, single parents, LGBTQIA+ families, foster families and grandparents as well as to coach leaders of congregations, new worshiping communities and new immigrant churches in adaptive leadership models to support their communities in faith formation at home that happens alongside the worship and work of the church.

The $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will help the Office of Christian Formation resource many kinds of families and help them enhance faith formation at home. (Contributed photo)

Another unique aspect of the Office of Christian Formation’s initiative is its partnership with the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) toward publishing a wide variety of books. These will include titles on multi-racial families, being a Matthew 25 family — referencing the PMA’s movement to build congregational vitality, dismantle structural racism and eradicate systemic poverty — as well as parent downloadable resources to PPC’s FlyAway Books, to name only a few.

“Diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice are a thread throughout the proposal and are part of the priorities of all the work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency” says the Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, the PMA’s president and executive director. “We are paying close attention to a program that can change and adapt to the needs of the geographical area, cultural needs, and the leaders and parents/caregiver needs.”

The Presbyterian Mission Agency is one of 77 organizations that are receiving grants through this competitive round of the initiative. Reflecting the diversity of Christianity in the United States, the organizations are affiliated with mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox Christian and Pentecostal faith communities. Many of the organizations are rooted in Black church, Hispanic and Asian Christian traditions.

“We’ve heard from many parents who are seeking to nurture the spiritual lives of their children, especially in their daily activities, and looking to churches and other faith-based organizations for support,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion.  “These thoughtful, creative and collaborative organizations embrace the important role that families have in shaping the religious development of children and are launching programs to assist parents and caregivers with this task.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative in 2022 because of its interest in supporting efforts to help individuals and families from diverse Christian communities draw more fully on the wisdom of Christian practices to live out their faith fully and well passing on a vibrant faith to a new generation.

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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