Central Seminary Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Launch New Mentoring Initiative

Central Baptist Theological Seminary has received a grant of $1 million to help establish Formed for Flourishing: Mentoring Toward Effective Leadership. 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 Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.

Central understands that theological education is not completed in the classroom but continues to be shaped by the local ministry context. To that end, we imagine a program that connects experienced ministers who journey for two years with new and transitioning ministers through the important contextual learning and formation that cannot be accomplished in seminary. We recognize the critical nature of ministry’s early years not only for growing into one’s pastoral identity but also cultivating the capacity for facing and addressing significant challenges like financial leadership, intercultural competence, conflict transformation, and community engagement. Formed for Flourishing utilizes group mentoring for developing skills and deepening relationships followed by one-to-one mentoring as the soil within which healthy, effective leadership is tended.

Rev. Dr. Angela Barker Jackson, who will direct this program for Central expressed gratefulness for the opportunities this grant will provide:

“We are exceedingly grateful for the Lilly Endowment’s enduring commitment to pastoral and congregational health, and we are pleased to participate in this new initiative. It is a significant opportunity for Central to increase our nurture of ministry leaders, to strengthen our ecumenical connections, and thereby to serve the local church.”

Central Seminary 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 grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking 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 Central’s Formed for Flourishing program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

About Central Baptist Theological Seminary

Founded in 1901, Central Seminary prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity. Central is proud to have the first woman president of a Baptist seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). With course offerings in a dozen locations and serving more than 30 Christian denominations, the seminary is Baptist in heritage and ecumenical in practice. Central has been named one of the top 12 fastest growing theological schools in the ATS. In addition, The Auburn Center for Theological Education identifies Central as one of the “Bright Spots of Theological Education,” a place where risk has met with success. For more information, visit www.cbts.edu.

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 Eli and J.K. Jr. – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state Indiana. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.


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