Skip to content »

Lilly Endowment Awards $750,000 to Help Pastors Become Financially Literate and Lead Financially Strong Congregations

December 6, 2016
Faith and Finance Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

EVANSTON, Illinois – Lilly Endowment Inc. recently awarded Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary a $750,000 grant to help pastors obtain the education and business skills they need to be financially literate and address the economic challenges facing congregations today. The grant is part of Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.

To help pastors meet these economic challenges, Garrett-Evangelical has created a far-reaching program, “Leading Vibrant Congregations: A Collaboration of Faith and Finance,” that has four progressive and inter-related parts.

First, Garrett-Evangelical will create and provide online courses that give clergy the opportunity to learn theologically grounded financial practices in their own homes or churches. Some of the course topics will include: the importance of financial planning for churches, interpreting and using financial statements, and creating a culture of generosity. In addition to these courses, Garrett-Evangelical will sponsor a series of free, live webinars that will reinforce the online curriculum and allow pastors to ask any questions they may have.

Second, the faculty from Garrett-Evangelical and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management will offer in-person, one-day seminars that will help clergy implement what they have learned thus far and become effective leaders in their congregations. These seminars will be centrally located to enable maximum clergy participation.

The grant also enables Garrett-Evangelical to expand its partnership with the Kellogg School of Management. For the past eight years, the faculty from Garrett-Evangelical has teamed up with the faculty from Kellogg’s Center for Nonprofit Management to offer courses that teach theologically sound financial practices. Currently doctor of ministry students at Garrett-Evangelical have the opportunity to receive seven out of 30 credit hours for coursework taken through Kellogg’s Center for Nonprofit Management.

These in-person seminars will also be used to encourage interested pastors to pursue a doctor of ministry degree in a leadership track at Garrett-Evangelical. To be certain that all pastors are able to pursue a doctoral degree at Garrett-Evangelical, the seminary will now provide scholarship support to Black and Latino/a students pursuing a doctor of ministry degree in either the Strategic Leadership in Black Congregations Track (2017 cohort) or the Congregational Leadership Track (2018 cohort). Up to 12 students in the 2017 cohort and up to 12 students in the 2018 cohort will receive a 50 percent scholarship, making up the third part of the program.

Finally, Garrett-Evangelical will broaden the academic writings on the economic and financial management challenges facing pastoral leadership today by bringing together faculty from Garrett-Evangelical, the Kellogg School of Management, and other seminaries. These faculty will co-write and publish articles with other academics and church leaders, addressing the themes of stewardship, generosity, gratitude, material well-being, and the role of faith in managing debt, budget building, and fundraising.

“We are delighted to receive this grant from Lilly Endowment,” said Garrett-Evangelical President Lallene Rector. “It will not only further strengthen our collaboration with the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, but it will also allow us to expand educational offerings that support the development of effective congregational leadership for the church. We are convinced pastoral leadership skills that include financial literacy and understanding are critical to the vitality of a congregation's ministry."

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 J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grant-making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.