The Fund for Theological Education will award grants of up to $12,500 each to congregations and church-related organizations for programs that offer pastoral ministry internships to college students over the next three years.
Letters of intent for grant applications to the fund's Calling Congregations initiative are due Oct. 30, according to a press release. Grants also will be awarded in the fall of 2011 and 2012.
The Fund for Theological Education is an ecumenical organization that advocates for excellence and diversity in pastoral ministry and theological scholarship.
The organization said in its release that it is offering the grants in response to requests from congregations for funding that supports a "practiced exploration of the call to pastoral ministry."
"The energy for these grants is generated by results we see from similar funding awarded for internship projects among our current grantees," said Jim Goodmann, administrator of the Cultures of Call grants.
The funding will meld enthusiasm for honoring the gifts and callings of young people with VocationCARE practices that encourage congregations to create a space to explore Christian vocation together, ask self-awakening questions, reflect theologically on self and community, and establish ministry opportunities, the release said.
VocationCARE is described in the release as "a means by which everyone -- particularly young people exploring Christian vocation and the call to pastoral ministry -- are more likely to hear, respond to, and serve God's call in their lives."
"This is a ministry of accompaniment," Goodmann said. "As illustrated in a phrase coined by Dr. Lovett Weems and Ann Michael of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, the 'church as accompanying community' is party to the journey of an intern in a manner that goes well beyond evaluation or performance critique. Their journey together has an uncommon reciprocity, as the question of vocation belongs not solely to interns but to everyone who gathers with them to reflect together."
Organizations submitting letters of intent should be prepared to host at least two interns within an 18-month grant period.
Since launching the Cultures of Call grants program in 2007 with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., the organization has awarded more than $430,000 to local churches and organizations for programs supporting vocational discernment.
More information is available here.