Calvin Theological Seminary Receives a $1 Million Grant

Date Published

January 5, 2022

Home / Blog / Calvin Theological Seminary Receives a $1 Million Grant

Published by Calvin Seminary

Calvin Theological Seminary has received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Next Steps Initiative.

The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is 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 purpose of the next steps initiative is to serve adult learners who need innovative educational support in order to take the next steps in their ministry leadership development. Specifically, the Next Steps Initiative will:

  • Prepare and equip adult learners who might not desire to complete a full seminary degree, such as commissioned pastors, and ministry leaders seeking continuing education.
  • Make ministry training more accessible to adult learners with diverse family situations, schedules, languages, and income levels.
  • Develop a network of “teaching congregations” with whom we will collaborate to facilitate innovative and customizable learning opportunities for those congregations’ adult learners and ministry leaders.

“For over 145 years, the primary mission of Calvin Seminary has been to equip pastors and leaders for the flourishing of the church” said Program Director Aaron Einfeld. “This generous grant from Lilly Endowment helps us to continue that mission while adapting to the evolving needs of the church. By facilitating learning experiences that are collaborative, flexible, accessible, and practical, we are returning to our Reformed emphasis on equipping the priesthood of all believers for missional living and leading.”

Calvin Theological Seminary is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American and recent immigrant Christian communities.

“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.

“For over 145 years, the primary mission of Calvin Seminary has been to equip pastors and leaders for the flourishing of the church”

– Aaron Einfeld, Program Director

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 grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.


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