The School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, has received a grant of $999,976 to help establish the Thriving in Ministry Mentoring and Continuing Education Program. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that 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 mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.
The School of Theology’s program will center on building mutual mentoring groups for clergy serving in contexts where mentorship is known to be especially important. The project team will be seeking clergy serving in rural communities, clergy in Latino/Hispanic ministry, African American clergy, and clergy trained in non-traditional theological education programs, such as local formation or the School of Theology’s Non-Degree Theological Studies program. Recruitment efforts will focus in particular on female clergy across all four groups.
“We are thrilled with the partnership of the Lilly Endowment, Inc. as we look for new ways to serve the Church,” noted the Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology. “The Endowment has an inspiring vision for renewing the Church. We have great confidence that the program will enlighten and empower participants, and that as a consequence, we will form a network of clergy who are prepared to thrive in challenging times.”
The School of Theology is one of 78 organizations located in 29 states that is taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox.
Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grant-making commitment to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grant-making priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.
“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry, and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Sewanee’s Thriving in Ministry network, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”