The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology has received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand the work of Resilient Leaders Project.
The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.
Lilly Endowment is funding nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.
The funds from this grant will allow the school to expand the work of Resilient Leaders Project to develop a program for congregational development. This program will forge partnerships with and further equip congregational leadership teams to adapt to changing contexts and invest in neighborhood communities in order to mutually thrive. This program aims to equip teams with a defined, replicable process that will align their identity, belonging, and mission in response to ongoing changes in their neighborhood, especially amidst and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Aspects of the program will include hands-on, experiential training through conferences as well as shared learnings through writings, guidebooks, webinars, and instructional videos.
“I hope that the work we develop through Thriving Congregations will be timely support for congregations looking to respond to the tectonic shifts of our time,” said Kate Davis, Director of Resilient Leaders Project. “I hope that through our work together, the school and congregations are transformed in sight and service, seeing one another as a beloved community — even across difference — and becoming a people who mend the fragmentation and isolation in our city.”
The Seattle School is one of 92 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as nondenominational and evangelical. Several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic and Asian-American traditions.
“In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s Vice President for Religion. “These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & 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 exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership.