Columbia Seminary Receives Major Lilly Grant for Thriving in Ministry Initiative

Columbia Seminary Receives Major Lilly Grant for Thriving in Ministry Initiative

December 22, 2017Columbia Theological Seminary was awarded a grant of $1 million to expand the Pastoral Excellence Programs offered through The Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL). The grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative.The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as role models and mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

The Endowment is making more than $20 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry Initiative. The Pastoral Excellence Programs include three opportunities: the Leadership in Ministry Workshops, the Colloquy for Clergy Series, and the Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreats for Clergy and Spouses. While each program is designed to meet the needs of different audiences, each builds on the best practices of clergy professional and personal development and learning.

“It is truly an honor to receive this grant,” said Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Seminary. “We’re excited to expand the work of The Center for Lifelong Learning which has distinguished itself nationally for offering peer-learning experiences.”

The Leadership in Ministry (LIM) workshops are offered in four locations (Atlanta, Boston, Portland OR, and Lynchburg VA), with about 100 clergy attending every year. With the grant, LIM will launch a new location in Kansas City in the fall of 2018. Clergy from many denominations participate.

The Colloquy for Clergy Series will build on the success of CLL’s Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy to offer new colloquies for clergy in particular contexts and of particular profiles. Currently, the following are scheduled: Rural Church Clergy; Latino/a Clergy (2018-19); Young Black Church Pastors; Colloquy for pastors leading a congregation to closure (2019-20); Colloquy for Second Career Clergy; Colloquy for Women of Color (2020-2021); Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy; Colloquy for Clergy Transitioning into Retirement (2021-2022); Colloquy for Entrepreneur Clergy (2022-2023).

Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreat for Clergy and Spouses will partner with the Ministering to Ministers Foundation to provide an annual four-day retreat on the Columbia Seminary campus for clergy and their spouses who have experienced forced termination from a ministry setting.

“This is a silent epidemic, under addressed by denominational bodies,” noted Israel Galindo, Associate Dean of Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education. “We are particularly eager to provide this opportunity to our alumni, especially in those difficult first call experiences where so many experience their first crises while inexperienced and unprepared to deal with often toxic church conflicts.”

Columbia Seminary is one of 24 organizations taking part in Lilly Endowment’s initiative. They represent diverse Christian communities, including Baptist, Brethren, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Churches of Christ, Episcopal,  Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Quaker organizations, as well as interdenominational and non-denominational organizations. Many of the organizations, including Columbia Seminary, are working to help clergy from multiple denominational traditions.

The Thriving in Ministry Initiative is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Many pastors are seeking role models and wise colleagues who can guide them through professional transitions and challenges encountered in particular ministry contexts,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Our hope is that this grant to Columbia Theological Seminary will support a new wave of efforts that help clergy thrive and lead their congregations more effectively.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly familyJ.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Elithrough gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.