Campbell’s near-$1M grant will help rural clergy to ‘thrive and flourish’

Campbell University has received a grant of $995,627 to help establish the Fellowship for Clergy in Rural and Underserved Areas.

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.  

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.

The grant allows Campbell to establish the Fellowship for Clergy in Rural and Underserved Areas, a 12-month cohort model led by the Campbell University Center for Church and Community. The program will convene and connect clergy from rural and underserved communities to develop greater internal capacities for personal growth, skill development for leadership, and strategies and tactics for connecting with community leadership. Each cohort will include 16 group members.

During the 12 months, pastoral leaders will develop deepening relationships while also exploring topics related to resilience in ministry, clergy isolation, and community engagement capacities. Ultimately, the goal is that ministers thrive and flourish where they are planted. By accessing the faculty and staff resources across the university, clergy will have the opportunity to learn with and from thought leaders in areas of public health, law, engineering, medicine and education. These relationships will give clergy opportunities to develop leadership capacities for their community as well as their congregation, by better understanding issues facing leaders in other areas of the community.

Brian Foreman, executive director of the Center, says, “Clergy carry much of a congregation’s and community’s burden, often times alone. We are guided by idea that healthy clergy build healthy congregations which contribute to healthy communities. As such, we will focus on spiritual formation, clergy well-being, and community care as we journey together in the cohorts.”

Campbell 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 Campbell and the Fellowship for Clergy in Rural and Underserved Areas, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

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 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.