Central Seminary Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Launch New Congregational Initiative
Central Baptist Theological Seminary has received a grant of $1,000,000 to help establish RESHAPING CHURCH: Thriving Congregations. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving Congregations Initiative which aims to help congregations strengthen their ministries for deepening their relationships with God, enhancing their connections with each other, and contributing to the flourishing of their communities. Thriving Congregations is a response to both the research and the anecdotal realities that point to significant social and cultural trends affecting congregational life and patterns of participation within congregations in recent years.
The purposes of the Thriving Congregations Initiative 2019 lend themselves nicely to Central Seminary’s mission of forming persons for faithful, thoughtful leadership that nimbly adapts to the cultural shifts and the religious realities of the 21stcentury. We are committed to nurturing leaders who are prepared for such change and at the same time deeply rooted in the spiritual practices and ecclesial richness of the historical church. Our program, RESHAPING CHURCH, brings congregations into a 12-month process designed by our partners, Pinnacle Leadership Associates, who will be our collaborators in this work. RESHAPING CHURCH is an intentional, guided process to support congregations and leaders who seek to make the most of this unique moment in time and to transform a season of uncertainty and crisis into an opportunity for clarity, growth, transformation, and mission. The first cohort of 12 churches are preparing to travel this road together, and their preparation begins with “Preparing to Hear God’s Call” a 2020 Advent resource for RESHAPING CHURCH.
Program Director, Rev. Dr. Angie Jackson, expresses gratitude on behalf of Central:
“We are exceedingly grateful to be one of only twenty-four organizations to participate in this invitational initiative. It is a significant opportunity for Central to partner with Pinnacle Leadership Associates, and we look forward to strengthening our service to the local church by not only providing resources but also journeying with congregations as they discern pathways to flourishing for themselves and their communities.”
Enhancing congregational vitality is a grantmaking priority of the Endowment rooted in the conviction that local congregations are the primary form of Christian community. They are places where Christians gather to worship; where their children and youth are formed in faith traditions; and where they extend care to one another, to neighbors, and to people around the world. Lilly Endowment Religion Vice President Chris Coble says,
“This is an exciting and challenging time for many congregations. We understand that pastors and other congregational leaders are asking critical questions and seeking clarity about their values and mission. The Thriving Congregations Initiative aims to help congregations strengthen ministries and thrive so they can better help people encounter God, connect with each other and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world.”