The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology has received a grant of $1 million to help establish its new Resilience for Sustainable Leadership program. The grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative, which supports programs that help pastors flourish in their communities and navigate key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

“The Resilience for Sustainable Leadership program reflects The Seattle School’s foundational conviction that to be successful in a rapidly changing environment, leaders must become competent at reading the cultural context and responding to complex human needs,” says Dr. Craig Detweiler, President of The Seattle School. Such work requires sustainable practices, integrative thinking, and emotional resilience. To that end, the program will contribute to an understanding of the challenges facing the church and will clarify the characteristics and skills of resilient leaders.

This work is informed by The Seattle School’s alumni, who continuously expand institutional awareness of the beauty of work in ministry and healing professions as well as the challenges: loneliness, burnout, lack of denominational support, the necessity of bi- or tri-vocational work, and the need to pastor outside of traditional church settings. A robust connection to its thriving network of more than 1,000 alumni allows The Seattle School to hear from churches and communities throughout the world for on-the-ground perspective and insight.

The program is also heavily informed by research and conversations with leaders in denominational and nonprofit settings. It contributes to an ongoing conversation about the tension between innovation and sustainability—which The Seattle School has observed firsthand as the Pacific Northwest continues to grow at unprecedented rates.

The first phase of the Resilience for Sustainable Leadership project has been to conduct research to identify leaders’ needs and to develop a program to respond to those needs. This summer, The Seattle School will be launching the pilot year of this program. Kate Davis (MDiv, ‘15) has been selected as the Project Manager, working under the leadership of Dr. J. Derek McNeil, Academic Dean and Senior Vice President of Academics.

“This marks not only the beginning of our partnership with Lilly Endowment, but a new opportunity to further the mission of The Seattle School,” says Dr. McNeil. “We are thrilled for the funding of this project and the opportunity to deepen our relationship with pastors around resilience and community leadership.”

“This marks a new opportunity to further the mission of The Seattle School.”

Lilly Endowment has pledged more than $20 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry Initiative. The Seattle School is one of 24 organizations taking part in the initiative from a wide variety of Christian practices and traditions.

“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 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 family—J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education, and community development.