CLL Receives Lilly Grant to Serve Pastors in Crisis and Pastors Who Innovate

CLL Receives Lilly Grant to Serve Pastors in Crisis and Pastors Who Innovate

June 24, 2017—The Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) at Columbia Theological Seminary has received a $50,000 planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through Thriving in Ministry, a new initiative that seeks to support selected religious organizations in creating or enhancing programs that help clergy thrive as pastoral leaders and thus strengthen the congregations they serve. The grant will help CLL consider expansion of programs for clergy leaders in several areas including support for clergy who have experienced forced terminations and expansion of CLL’s own Pastoral Excellence Program.

“We’re excited to explore the possibility of these new offerings through the support of Lilly Endowment’s planning grant,” said Dr. Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for CLL and Director of Online Education. “CLL has a significant track record in offering peer-learning experiences, and we are motivated to see which activities could enable us to identify and reach additional clergy groups. This will involve research, imagination, and strategic work, all of which can be developed through this grant.”

Congregational ministry is difficult and becoming more so. Forced termination of clergy remains one of the most harmful, tragic, and silent issues in ministry today. This under-reported and under-addressed crisis affects one-third of clergy, many of whom experience forced termination during their first call. The effects are detrimental and long term. CLL leadership can help reclaim and retain clergy in ministry after forced termination. The program will be open to pastors and ministerial staff and, ideally, to clergy spouses, who share the trauma of a forced termination. CLL’s goal is to address the issue of forced termination related to clergy and ministerial staff in congregational ministry and its effect on clergy, their families, and congregations.

The CLL’s Pastoral Excellence Program includes both the Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy and Leadership in Ministry programs. For the Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy, CLL would like to extend this proven model to two new clergy groups: clergy of color and pastors in rural ministry contexts for whom robust peer-learning and professionally-focused experiences are too few and out of reach, and innovative and entrepreneurial leaders, who seek to share particular competencies that provide new life, models, and approaches for congregational ministry, and to explore new ways of leading in congregational ministry.

The Leadership in Ministry (LIM) program is deployed successfully by CLL in four locations across the county—Atlanta, GA; Portland, OR; Lost River, WV; and Boston, MA. Dr. Galindo hopes to identify at least two new locations for this program. The grant will enable current and prospective faculty to take part in a strategic planning meeting at the Columbia seminary campus. LIM is recognized as a model for effective clergy leadership development. Informed by best practices in professional and ministerial leadership development, LIM applies peer and faculty coaching and mentoring, a rigorous theory of practice, and a context in which encouragement of working on self and ministry practice is an ongoing project.

Columbia Theological Seminary is “cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and up to 60 courses and events each year as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL). The CLL also offers four certificate programs including training spiritual directors, two scholars programs, and a post-graduate Pastoral Excellence Program that is focused on clergy leadership development. Over 700 persons attended CLL’s programs last year. For more information, please visit


Media Contact:
Michael Thompson
Director of Communications

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