The ambitious project will engage leaders in holistically supporting parents and caregivers who pass on faith to the next generation
September 7, 2023
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,” said 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,” said 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.
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,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane 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.
Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: Office of Christian Formation awarded $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Tony Lewis, Operations & Accounting Associate, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation
Mary Lidtke, Grant’s Administrator, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Loving and merciful God, in Christ you welcome all your children with hope, grace and forgiveness. Lord, let your Spirit move in us. Help us to open our hearts, arms and doors to welcome your children home. Amen.