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Louisville Institute receives nearly $8 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Oct 09, 2017

Grant supports development of North American pastoral leaders, theological educators, religion scholars, seminaries and churches.


Lilly Endowment IncLilly Endowment, Inc. has awarded a grant of $7,999,954 to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to continue the work of the Louisville Institute for the period of January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2021. Supported by the Endowment since 1990, the Louisville Institute is a national leader in the study of religion and support of pastors and church leaders in North America.

News of the grant was announced by Dr. Michael Jinkins, president of Louisville Seminary, and Dr. Edwin David Aponte, executive director of the Louisville Institute, at the fall 2017 meeting of Louisville Seminary’s President’s Roundtable.

 “We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for the vote of confidence in the ongoing work of the Louisville Institute that this renewal grant represents,” said Aponte. “With these funds the Louisville Institute will continue to bridge gaps between church and academy while addressing the diverse, global, multicultural, generational, and emerging currents facing North American Christianity.”

“Lilly Endowment’s continued support assists us as we work to prepare the next generation of professors to teach in seminaries and universities across the country,” added Jinkins, who also chairs the Louisville Institute Board of Directors.

With this renewed support, the Institute will:

• Provide fellowships in theological education to identify and support a new generation of exceptionally well-prepared faculty for theological schools;

• Bring together and engage cohorts of pastors and professors to address issues confronting the church; and

• Award grants to pastors and academic leaders to support their innovative research projects.

As part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative, the Louisville Institute addresses the need for a new generation of theological faculty that is prepared to respond to the questions and needs of communities of faith and their future leadership. The Institute’s fellowship programs are designed to prepare faculty in multiple settings so their teaching and scholarship can serve the church and its ministries.

Louisville InstituteThe Louisville Institute’s Collaborative Inquiry Team program supports groups of four to eight pastors and professors who propose projects that examine inherent challenges facing Christian congregations. Teams spend 18 to 36 months exploring together a challenge currently confronting church and society.

The Louisville Institute offers grants to support research by pastor/scholars and scholar/educators that strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions while advancing North American religious and theological scholarship. These grant programs aim to serve three strategic constituencies whose competence and well-being are essential to the future of the church: pastors, younger scholars, and researchers and scholars for the broader church.

Under this grant, the Louisville Institute will launch a new iteration of the Pastors Working Groups. This second wave will engage small groups to inquire about the changing contexts of ministry. What are the new ways people congregate and form faith communities? How can ministers connect with and learn from emerging non-denominational approaches to ministry? What can the ministry experiences of those working in and with historically marginalized groups and immigrant communities teach the greater Christian community?

“As the new Pastors Working Groups help us understand where the church is headed and what the emerging needs of ministry leaders are, we also anticipate learning how best to reimagine grant and fellowship programs for ecclesially engaged scholars,” said Aponte. “We hope to launch the first Pastors Working Group in the fall of 2019.”

This will be the ninth time in 27 years that Lilly Endowment has awarded a grant to fund the Louisville Institute’s work.

“We are pleased that the Louisville Institute will continue its important work of supporting pastors, religious leaders and academic scholars as they explore critical challenges facing Christian communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president of religion. “Louisville Institute’s efforts to prepare a new generation of faculty to teach at theological schools also will help ensure that these schools continue educate seminarians to become excellent pastoral leaders.”

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