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University of Dubuque Theological Seminary receives nearly $1 million to increase student accessibility to theological education

Lilly Endowment Inc. awards the grant through its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative

by University of Dubuque Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

DUBUQUE, Iowa — The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary has received a $998,503 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Being There: Local Ministry Leadership in a Networked Age.

The project is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

UDTS is an ecumenical seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Being There: Local Ministry Leadership in a Networked Age will allow UDTS to help fulfill its mission of forming faithful ministry leaders by increasing student accessibility to theological education and by situating that education within the context of existing or emerging local and regional ministry networks.

The grant will enable UDTS to develop a comprehensive ministry-lifespan model of theological education that promotes theological formation over the lifespan of ministry. In response to the changing needs of students, UDTS will develop educational program elements, refocused and/or repacked to make them more accessible to leaders at various stages of ministry. The grant will also enable UDTS to situate those newly accessible education programs in local and regional ministry networks through formal partnerships.

“At the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, the phrase ‘being there’ reflects our hopes and dreams for the ministry leaders with whom we partner,” said Dr. Annette Huizenga, dean of the seminary and associate professor of New Testament. “We want to empower ministry leaders to fully inhabit the ministry to which they have been called. We want to ‘be there’ for the local church and its ministry leaders with theological education that meets them at their point of need.”

Being There: Local Ministry Leadership in a Networked Age will launch in January 2022.

UDTS is one of 84 theological schools that will receive a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American, and recent immigrant Christian communities.

“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly 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.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic 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. 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 supports the causes of community developmenteducation, and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate, and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.


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