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Louisville Seminary Receives $125,000 Extension of Lilly Endowment Grant

Oct 11, 2016

Funds will support programs that improve economic well-being of future ministers.

Lilly Endowment, Inc. has awarded a grant of $125,000 to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to support programs that address the economic challenges facing future ministers. The grant is an extension of the $249,992 grant that Lilly awarded to Louisville Seminary for the initiative in 2013.

Personal financial pressures, lack of financial literacy, and inadequate administrative preparation severely limit the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermines their effectiveness as pastoral leaders. To help address these issues, Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their educational programs in financial literacy while also improving personal economic well-being of those preparing for ministry.

“Louisville Seminary understands the importance of the financial well-being of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve,” said Christopher Coble, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment. “This effort will help seminary students enter ministry without the burden of educational debt and prepare them with the personal and corporate financial knowledge and skills needed to lead their churches.”

The grant will continue to provide funding for research into the scope and impact of student debt and the effectiveness of scholarship aid on future ministry, thereby enabling the seminary to assess the impact of financial aid on students' education and transition to ministry.

“Louisville Seminary is committed to the financial health of its students,” said Louisville Seminary President Michael Jinkins. “They are investing their lives into ministry and service to others, and we want to help them be liberated from seminary debt so they can concentrate on the ministries to which God is calling them.”

The grant will also continue to support the seminary’s Money Matters for Ministry series of workshops designed to address three basic needs of students preparing to serve in various kinds of ministry: personal finance; leading congregations and other organizations in financially healthy ways; and managing effective and responsible fundraising campaigns. It offers a limited number of stipends to faculty who develop courses exploring social, cultural, theological or practical matters pertaining to money.

Debra Mumford is the director for Louisville Seminary’s Money Matters program. In addition to Mumford, presenters for this year’s Money Matters workshops include: Ginger Merkel, a Louisville Seminary trustee and managing director of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC in Indianapolis, Indiana; Kathy Minx, also a Louisville Seminary trustee and chief operations officer of Humana Behavioral Health in Dallas, Texas; and Melissa Spas, managing director of education and engagement for the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving. Seminary faculty presenters include: Matthew Collins, director of the Ernest Miller White Library and associate professor of bibliography and research; Clifton Kirkpatrick, professor of world Christianity and ecumenical studies and the William A. Benfield Jr. Professor of Evangelism and Global Missions; and Scott Williamson, the Robert H. Walkup Professor of Theological Ethics.

“Based on ongoing feedback from Money Matters seminar participants, the program has grown from an initial offering of three core seminars to eight seminars per academic year,” said Mumford. “We now offer two seminars each year to meet the entrepreneurial needs of our Marriage and Family Therapy students. We also offer seminars on website development, effective social media strategizing, and video recording/live streaming to teach our students how to effectively use technologies in their ministries.”

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