Louisville Seminary has been awarded a $375,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support and expand its Doors to Dialogue (D2D) program, an initiative to increase opportunities for seminary students to engage, understand, and work cooperatively with people of diverse religious identities.
“If we hope to convince American people of faith that we can live faithfully with difference, the struggle for their hearts and minds must be won in the heartland of this country, in places like Louisville,” said Louisville Seminary President Michael Jinkins. “The generous support of the Luce Foundation validates this as important work of a theological institution.”
The grant, which will be disbursed over three years, will provide students and faculty opportunities for deeper engagement with persons of diverse religious identities by:
- Providing financial assistance so that all students may participate in cross-religious and cross-cultural experiences during seminary;
- Supporting a visiting professor of ecumenical studies and global ministries and another visiting professor each year specializing in a religion other than Christianity, for the purpose of enhancing student and faculty awareness and knowledge of various religious traditions;
- Providing structured continuing education opportunities through symposia and lunch seminars designed to deepen the ability of local supervisors in the Clinical Practical Education (CPE) and Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) programs to guide students in ecumenical and interfaith dimensions of counseling and chaplaincy ministries;
- Establishing a program, called “Dinners to Dialogue,” that will foster ecumenical and interfaith table fellowship among Louisville Seminary and other Louisville-area students. Once a month students of different denominations and/or religions will meet for dinner and conversation about a variety of topics. This initiative was inspired by the experience of two members on the Louisville Seminary Board of Trustees, Chairperson Pamela Kidd and Board member Brent Slay, whose lives have been enriched by their participation, with their spouses, in an interfaith dinner group in Grand Rapids, Michigan over the past several years.
“We are glad to support this initiative, which will help Louisville Seminary students learn to recognize and wrestle with the complex and interrelated cultural, racial, denominational and religious factors that they will encounter throughout their careers,” said Lynn Szwaja, Program Director for Theology, at the Henry Luce Foundation.
The Doors to Dialogue (D2D) program was established in 2009 to ensure that the Seminary’s graduates will serve effectively in the midst of religious difference. A plan to strengthen the program is one of five key initiatives of the Seminary’s strategic plan, Covenant for the Future. “This generous grant will offer new opportunities for our students to discover the many ways that knowing and working with people of other Christian denominations and other religions can enrich and strengthen their own commitment and service as ministers of Jesus Christ,” said Susan R. Garrett, Dean of the Seminary.
Dean Garrett led the Seminary’s grant writing team, which also included: Cliff Kirkpatrick, Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Studies and Global Ministries; David Hester, Harrison Ray Anderson Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Doctor of Ministry and Continuing Education; Kathryn Johnson, Professor of Historical Theology and Paul Tudor Jones Professor of Church History; and Frances Adeney, William A. Benfield Jr. Professor of Evangelism and Global Mission.
The Henry Luce Foundation, of New York, was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. A key priority of the foundation’s Theology Program is support for new models of theological education to prepare leaders for service in a religiously plural world.