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Columbia Receives Nurturing Children Planning Grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc.

November 30, 2022 – Columbia Theological Seminary has received a planning grant of $50,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Nurturing Children through Worship and Prayer Initiative. The aim of this initiative is to help children come to know and love God and grow in faith. With this planning cycle grant, Columbia will initiate planning for the Wonder of Worship project by partnering with church leaders and parents to imagine new ways of encouraging corporate worship and prayer for children that welcome all as participants.

“Columbia is excited to partner with the Lilly Endowment in this new initiative that is so important in these times,” says Dr. Victor Aloyo, President, Columbia Theological Seminary. “We commend the Lilly Endowment for its interest in the youngest worship participants in our church life. Columbia shares their desire to train leaders for the church and world who are attentive to all ages and create an inclusive worship experience accessible to all.”

With this planning grant, Columbia will continue cultivating a planning team that includes children’s ministers, parents, Columbia faculty, staff, students, and alums from around the country and in various sizes of churches. We will also convene focus groups of ministry professionals and parents to learn more about the successes and barriers to the inclusion of children in corporate worship and prayer. Following the focus groups, the planning team will meet to assess the information gathered by the focus groups and to craft their vision for putting together a request for a project implementation grant.

“Focusing on the nurture of children in worship and prayer is a natural fit for Columbia,” says Dr. Christine Roy Yoder, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. “Our faculty is gifted in the areas of worship and the arts, developmental psychology and family systems theory, and children’s ministry. We are one of a handful of theological schools that provides a children’s library and curriculum lab in our library. Finally, worship that welcomes and engages everyone is central to our commitment to foster a community of belonging.”

“As we move from pandemic to an endemic time and regather in intergenerational worship, it is time to reclaim the hospitality and welcome of the gospel,” says Dr. Kathy Dawson, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education. “Worship is the one space in a congregation’s life where the generations are together focused on God. There is much potential to make this act more inclusive of all ages and abilities by incorporating the arts and interactive activities that draw all closer to God.”


About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

About Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary was founded in 1828 and is an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  We are led by Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo, and we are committed to educate, equip, and nurture students to become a new generation of pastoral leaders for the church and the world; to become a community that embodies welcome, hospitality, justice, and belonging; to build partnerships that bring vibrant spiritual, cultural, and academic exchanges; and to embrace boldness, enabling us to learn, teach, serve, and live joyfully.

About Columbia