Divinity School receives $1.25 million Lilly Endowment grant

Campbell University received a grant of $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative to help parents and caregivers share their faith and values with their children. 

Designed by the Divinity School, the grant project aims to equip and encourage families to experience regular, substantive, holistic, family-centered spiritual formation. This project will work in partnership with churches, ministers and caregivers to develop strategies and resources that draw on time-honored practices of faith formation for children while also celebrating new paradigms that meet the needs of modern families.

“The COVID pandemic revealed the weaknesses of the long-standing model which has delegated the spiritual formation of children and youth to the church,” said Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Dean of the Divinity School. “When families were not able to attend in person, churches encouraged families to take up spiritual formation practices at home, but most parents and caregivers were neither equipped nor confident in taking on this role. As patterns of attendance continue to evolve post-pandemic, this grant will allow us to develop effective and innovative ways to equip parents and caregivers.”

Phase 1 will focus on listening to the needs of parents, caregivers, churches, and ministers, and on recruiting the personnel needed to conduct this project. Phase 2 will focus on developing and implementing specific programs and materials to meet those needs, with an iterative process of refinement. Phase 3 will allow us to focus on how to communicate and distribute the most effective strategies and resources. The project will be directed by a full-time faculty member in the area of Christian education/children’s ministry. This faculty member will work under the supervision of the dean and in collaboration with the rest of the faculty and staff of the Divinity School.

Campbell is one of 77 organizations that are receiving grants through this competitive round of the Christian Parenting initiative. Reflecting the diversity of Christianity in the United States, the organizations are affiliated with mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox Christian and Pentecostal faith communities. Many of the organizations are rooted in Black church, Hispanic and Asian Christian traditions.

“We’ve heard from many parents who are seeking to nurture the spiritual lives of their children, especially in their daily activities, and looking to churches and other faith-based organizations for support,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These thoughtful, creative and collaborative organizations embrace the important role that families have in shaping the religious development of children and are launching programs to assist parents and caregivers with this task.” 

Lilly Endowment Inc. launched the Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative in 2022 because of its interest in supporting efforts to help individuals and families from diverse Christian communities draw more fully on the wisdom of Christian practices to live out their faith fully and well passing on a vibrant faith to a new generation. 

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it 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 and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.