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Louisville Institute Board to meet December 17-18

Dec 14, 2007

Several members of the LPTS community will participate

Members of the Louisville Institute Board will gather on the campus of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to consider proposals in the General Grant Program, which funds a limited number of individual and collaborative projects undertaken by pastors, academics, and religious institutions.

As a center for the support of research and leadership education on American religion, the Louisville Institute seeks to bring together academia and the church in order to enrich the religious life of American Christians and encourage revitalization of their institutions. The Institute carries this out by awarding grants and convening individuals around conversations regarding the character, problems, contributions, and prospects of the historic institutions and commitments of American Christianity.

In addition to the General Grant Program, the Institute offers grants for academics, such as the Dissertation Fellowship and the First Book Grant Program for Minority Scholars, and grants for pastoral leaders, such as the Sabbatical Grant for Pastoral Leaders. Some programs open to both vocational groups include the Pastoral Leadership Grants, which focus on the conditions of contemporary Christian ministry, the nature of contemporary pastoral leadership in light of those conditions, and the character of pastoral excellence.

The work of the Louisville Institute involves several members of the Louisville Seminary community, including James Lewis, who has served as director of the Institute since it was established on the Seminary’s campus in 1990, and Sheldon Sorge, who is the associate director with primary responsibility for the pastoral leadership grants. Suzanne Case and Keri Liechty provide support for office management, communication, and the website as they maintain relationships with more than 1,400 Louisville Institute grantees.

Louisville Seminary President Dean K. Thompson and Professor Dianne Reistroffer also serve as members of the Institute’s Board and will participate in discussing the Institute’s work for the coming years.

At next week’s meeting the Board will welcome two new members – Kathleen Cahalan, Associate Professor of Theology at Saint John’s University, and Reverend Prince Rivers, senior pastor of the United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston Salem, N.C.

The work of the Louisville Institute is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., and its history can be understood by learning about the evolution of its Board. The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming article, which will appear in the next issue of “Intersections,” published three times each year by the Louisville Institute. Free subscription is available by emailing info@louisville-institute.org

The History and Work of the Louisville Institute Board
By James Lewis

Like many organizations, The Louisville Institute is governed by a Board of Directors. But unlike some similar groups, the Louisville Institute Board is absolutely central and works very hard indeed. It is not, that is, simply an advisory group.

The Board’s main functions are three in number: to make policy, to make grant decisions, and to oversee the work of the professional staff. For example, when the Louisville Institute decides to focus special attention on a particular area by offering a new grant program, such as our new Pastoral Leadership Grant Program, it is the Board that decides. When the Louisville Institute makes grants in response to persuasive General Grant proposals, it is the Board that decides. And it is the Board that oversees the work of the professional staff and that makes personnel decisions.

In addition to three full Board meetings each year, members of the Board also serve on grant program selection committees and occasionally attend gatherings such as our Winter Seminar, Sabbatical Grants for Pastoral Leaders Consultation, and Christian Faith and Life Consultation. That is to say, they are fully involved in both the grantmaking and convening work of the Louisville Institute. Board members normally serve terms of three years, and some serve a second term.

To recount the history of the Board is one way of recounting the history of the Louisville Institute. The original Louisville Institute Board included John Mulder, Louis Weeks, Joe Coalter, and Dorothy Bass. The fact that they are all mainstream Protestant scholars of North American religious life reflects the Institute’s emphasis in 1990 on the nature and future prospects of American mainline Protestantism. In the next few years, as Board terms expired, Nancy Ammerman, Amy Plantinga Pauw, Kathryn Johnson, Christine Pohl, Dianne Reistroffer, Jim Nieman, and Dean Thompson represented continuing expertise in American Protestantism.

By 1995, the work of the Louisville Institute had broadened to include attention to the Catholic Church, the historic African-American denominations, and Hispanic religious life. Consequently the Board increased in size and diversity, with the addition of Thomas Hoyt, Cyprian Davis, and Ana Maria Pineda. Later Wayne Davis, Paul Philibert, Roberto Goizueta, David Daniels, and Bill Cahoy served as well with this enhanced constituency in view. Kathleen Cahalan now joins this number.

Beginning in 1999, the Louisville Institute began to focus more intensively to the work of pastoral leadership, and it became clear that we could not do so effectively without incorporating pastoral wisdom on the Board. Pastoral members since then have included David Schreiber, Michael Mooty, Shawnthea Monroe-Mueller, Kevin Armstrong, and now Prince Rivers. Their service has been invaluable.

Current Board members include the following: Kevin Armstrong, Kathleen Cahalan, Bill Cahoy, Roberto Goizueta, Shawnthea Monroe-Mueller, Jim Nieman, Dianne Reistroffer, Prince Rivers, and Dean Thompson. It is impossible to imagine the work of The Louisville Institute in the past seventeen years without such an energetic and talented Board, committed to bringing together church and academy. The staff is honored to work with this outstanding group.

To learn more about the Louisville Institute or to apply for a grant, visit www.louisville-institute.org. Subscribe to “Intersections” free of charge by emailing info@louisville-institute.org.

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