Seminary Awarded $2 Million Lilly Grant

Post a Comment » Written on December 9th, 2004     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (December 9, 2004)  – North Park Theological Seminary has been  awarded a $2 million implementation grant from the Indianapolis-based  Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of the endowment’s Making Connections  Initiative, a national effort to expand and energize collaborations that  will foster excellent clergy and engaged congregations.

“Making Connections is the latest endowment initiative to address issues  facing many Christian denominations in recent decades,” states the award  notification from Lilly Endowment. Those issues include “declining  numbers of young people entering the ministry, the ‘dropout’ rate among  young ministers and the often-felt ‘isolation’ of practicing pastors.”

The North Park grant will fund three programs that over the next five  years will focus on effective connections between the seminary, North  Park University and the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). The programs  are part of a seminary effort “to call a new generation of promising  young people into Christian ministry, improve the seminary’s programs of  theological education and enhance the ministry of pastoral leaders,”  according to a seminary spokesperson. Highlights of the three programs  are as follows:

  • Youth Nexus: the Center for Youth Ministry Studies will oversee a  project that brings high school juniors and their youth pastors to  campus for week-long summer institutes called “Youth Nexus,” to engage  both groups in theological reflection, worship, experience learning  projects and community building recreational activities.
  • Connecting the Seminary and University Ministries: the grant will  facilitate additional collaboration between the seminary and the Office  of University Ministries, which engages undergraduates in worship, small  groups, spiritual formation and a variety of ministries within the  community, the city, the nation and the world. “The seminary’s resources  in theological studies and spiritual formation, the leadership potential  of seminary students and the future ministry potential of these  undergraduates makes this a collaboration that promises to be  particularly fruitful, both for seminary students and for undergraduates  who should consider theological study and ministry,” the spokesperson says.
  • Pastor in Residence/Professor in Residence: the grant also provides  funding to expand significantly the seminary’s Pastor in Residence  program to connect the seminary more fully with ECC pastors and, as much  as possible, to involve them more effectively in the seminary’s  educational process. Funding also will allow implementation of a program  that will send selected faculty to key congregations to learn from them  how best the seminary can serve them and their developing ministries and  to present the resources of the seminary to congregations.
“The schools receiving grants in this initiative (20 to date) have, for  the most part, decided to focus their attention on several key issues,”  says Craig Dykstra, the endowment’s vice president for religion,  including “establishing and strengthening connections with  congregations, creating programs for beginning pastors to benefit from  the wisdom of established ministers, involving congregations in both the  calling of young people to ministry and of supporting young seminary  graduates, establishing or expanding programs for urban or rural  ministries, and setting up denominational cooperative programs.

“We anticipate that the partnerships established or enhanced through the  Making Connections Initiative will strengthen the ecology of  institutions necessary to call and equip a new generation of church  leaders, just as it seeks to sustain excellent ministry going on today,”  Dykstra continued. “We are pleased to offer resources to help forge the  partnerships needed to strengthen ministry in congregations in this  country. It is an exciting journey.”

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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