Thriving in Ministry Initiative

The Church of the Brethren has received a grant of $994,683 to help establish its Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program. 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.

The objective of the Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program is to promote the thriving of multi-vocational pastors by providing access to resources, education and relationship in their own ministry context. Because multi-vocational pastors serve congregations as one among many vocational commitments, they face particular challenges in accessing denominational support structures and educational resources. The Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program aims to address these challenges and nurture the thriving of these multi-vocational pastors by sending “circuit riders” to meet with and listen to them where they are; connecting them with “exemplars” willing to share particular expertise in needed areas; and creating accessible groups of multi-vocational pastors to provide support and accountability.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to encourage, support, and equip the many dedicated multi-vocational pastors in our denomination,” commented Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren. “We believe this program will not only enhance the ministry of pastors but will bring vitality and inspiration to many small congregations with the end result of blessing entire communities.”

The Church of the Brethren is one of 78 organizations located in 29 states that are taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox.

Lilly Endowment logo

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 the Thriving in Ministry: Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

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.

Contact: Nancy Sollenberger Heishman


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