Since 2014 Central has been a grantee and participant in the nationwide Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers initiative sponsored by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Over time we have conducted student financial literacy research and education, withdrawn from the federal student loan program, offered financial coaching as a free student service, and supported seminarians with creative ministry ideas by offering small grants. In 2019 we awarded two grants to students whose ministries demonstrated creativity and met real-world needs.
Ashley Robinson [upper right block], a member of the 2016 Women’s Leadership Initiative, dreamed about launching a podcast, and she applied for grant funds to get her ministry off the ground. Having grown up in a conservative, evangelical tradition, Ashley loved scripture, but when she sensed a call to ministry, the church turned its back on her. Though she deconstructed and then reconstructed her faith, the love for the scripture remained. Lectio Diversa [logo pictured in upper middle block] is a podcast aimed at reclaiming the ancient appreciation of scripture reading while intentionally featuring diverse perspectives and participants.
Ashley is creative, thoughtful, and inclusive. About Lectio Diversa she says, “I have always felt called to invite people into community. I imagine myself in a ministry that looks like showing up for the hurting, speaking up for the oppressed, and welcoming the questioner.”
Tonya Ellis [lower left block], student in the 2018 Women’s Leadership Initiative, founded Shiloh Ministries and Counseling Center [logo pictured in lower middle block] in early 2019 and sought funding to seek a permanent location and create a visible internet presence. SMCC provides faith-based mental health counseling, pastoral care, and addiction recovery support, especially for individuals and families in under-served communities where access to mental health care is limited due to lack of transportation, insurance, and systemic gentrification of neighborhoods thereby limiting access to affordable and quality care.
Tonya is passionate about serving the underserved, and she embodies the SMCC mission. “Rooted in Love. Transforming Lives. One Step at a Time.”
Central is pleased to have participated in this national initiative and to have supported students as they learned and forged new ministry paths.