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Lilly Endowment Inc. awards grant for collaborative pastoral formation project

CSL, CTSFW to partner on groundbreaking initiative

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (CSL) and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. (CTSFW), the two seminaries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), will work in partnership to implement a recently awarded $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the project, “Partnership for Pastoral Formation: Setting Our Course for Future Church Leadership.”

The pastoral formation project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

The main goal of the project is to increase pastoral formation student enrollment at both seminaries to address increasing pastoral needs within the LCMS, including increasing enrollment of students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds as the institutions strive to better reflect the country’s population and changing demographics. Additionally, the project aims to strengthen the faculty pipelines at both seminaries and will include a focus on the development of coordinated post-seminary educational opportunities.

“I am grateful to Lilly Endowment for this generous grant and to President Rast and all of our friends at CTSFW for their commitment to this kind of collaboration,” said CSL President Dr. Thomas J. Egger. “This grant application concept sprang from a meeting between our seminary administrations in May 2021, which identified the areas of student recruitment, faculty development and continuing education as ripe for team effort. These initiatives aim to provide more pastors and deaconesses for the church as we continue to strive for efficiency, excellence and ethnic catholicity at our seminaries. Just as importantly, I pray that increased collaboration, over time, will lead to even greater familiarity, mutual respect, trust and unity between our two seminaries and among our church’s ministerium. Now is the time to be ‘rowing together’ for the sake of Christ’s mission and His church.”

“The Lord tells us that ‘the harvest is plentiful.’ We only have to look around us to know this is true. So many of our family, friends and neighbors are unchurched or unbelievers,” said CTSFW President Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr. “Our Lord then goes on to say that ‘the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Matt. 9:37-38 ESV). In this project, we intend to heed our Lord’s command to form more servants in Jesus Christ who can teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all. Partnering in this work will maximize the limited resources of both seminaries and serve to advance the Gospel and global mission of the LCMS.”

This award is one of 84 grants awarded to theological schools in the United States and Canada totaling more than $82 million through the second phase of the Pathways initiative.

“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic 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. Although the gifts of stock remain a 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 founders’ hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grant making in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.

About Concordia Seminary

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis provides Gospel-centered graduate-level theological education for pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and other leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). To learn more, visit csl.edu.

About Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., is an institution of theological higher education of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) whose central purpose is to prepare men for the pastoral ministry, as well as men and women for other service in the church, through programs offering an understanding of the Christian faith that is Christ-centered, biblically based, confessionally Lutheran and evangelically active. To learn more, visit ctsfw.edu.

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