School of Theology grant to improve economic wellbeing of seminarians

December 10, 2013

[School of Theology press release] The School of Theology has received a $249,996 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive funding.

Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers to address the issue of how financial pressures are limiting the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and are undermining the effectiveness of many pastoral leaders. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic wellbeing of future pastors.

All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada were invited to submit grant proposals.

The School of Theology will use its funding in three stages to identify and support future seminarians.

Conduct a thorough review of current financial aid assets and policies.

Engage Episcopalians and diocesan leaders to identify, support, and raise funds for qualified candidates for ministry through two new programs:

Project Shoulder Tap — a recruitment and merit aid program involving diocesan leadership created in partnership with the Society for the Increase in Ministry and the Mercer Fund;

Living in the Green — a discernment program utilizing the resources of VocationCARE and working with dioceses and congregations.

Create a new model of sustainable living/learning with a residential community for 12 seminarians funded with a full scholarship, including living expenses, that will not only allow them to graduate debt-free, but will provide a rich environment for formation.

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of The School of Theology, stated, “We need to shift our discernment and call processes from self-nomination to recruitment. With the receipt of this grant and the formation of these new programs, we will work with Episcopal dioceses and congregants to identify postulants and support their education through a generous financial aid platform.”

“Pastors are indispensable spiritual leaders and guides, and the quality of pastoral leadership is critical to the health and vitality of congregations,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “Theological schools play a critical role in preparing pastors and are uniquely positioned to address some of the economic challenges they face. The Endowment hopes that these grants will support broad efforts to improve the financial circumstances facing pastoral leaders so that pastors can serve their congregations more joyfully and effectively.”


About The School of Theology

Sewanee: The University of the South comprises a nationally recognized College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a School of Letters, and a distinguished School of Theology (seminary and programs center) serving the Episcopal Church. Located on 13,000 acres atop Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Sewanee enrolls 1,550 undergraduates and approximately 165 seminarians in master’s and doctoral programs annually. Sewanee is owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses, the only university so directly related to the Episcopal Church.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

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 J.K. Jr. and Eli —through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company.  The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development.  Lilly Endowment’s religion grant making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians.  It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.  More information can be found at