George Fox University receives $1 million grant to support the thriving of pastors

NEWBERG, Oregon – Portland Seminary, in partnership with the George Fox University College of Christian Studies, has received a grant of $1 million to help establish the Institute for Pastoral Thriving, part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative. Grant principals pictured below: Leah Payne, Loren Kerns, Erica Ramirez, Trisha Welstad, and Roger Nam.

Leah Payne, Loren Kerns, Erica Ramirez, Trisha Welstad, and Roger Nam

The initiative is designed to support 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 role models and mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

The Endowment is making more than $20 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry Initiative.

The institute will aim to provide spaces for restoration, nurture of spiritual disciplines, and the development of peer networks to support pastoral thriving in ministry. The inaugural pastoral cohort will launch in the summer of 2018. The five primary principals of the grant – Loren Kerns, Roger Nam, Leah Payne, Erica Ramirez and Trisha Welstad – will partner with local churches and denominations to design and fill the cohorts. Each cohort will meet on the Oregon Coast for four-day workshops over two consecutive summers.

The institute will directly address challenges to pastoral thriving, particularly in light of the rapidly changing demographics of the Pacific Northwest. The institute will also offer an annual symposium for all cohorts to gather as a larger body alongside the Portland Seminary/College of Christian Studies student community, with the intent to foster fruitful conversations regarding pastoral spiritual renewal.

“The challenges facing ministers of the Gospel in the 21st century are many, but so are the opportunities,” Payne said. “By creating small cohorts of pastors looking to thrive holistically, we look forward to fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, creativity, financial support and much-needed rest.”

George Fox University is one of 24 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent diverse Christian communities, including Baptist, Brethren, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal, evangelical, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Quaker organizations, as well as interdenominational and non-denominational organizations. Many of the organizations are working to help clergy from multiple denominational traditions.

The Thriving in Ministry Initiative is part of Lilly Endowment’s grant-making efforts to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grant-making priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Many pastors are seeking role models and wise colleagues who can guide them through professional transitions and challenges encountered in particular ministry contexts,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Our hope is that this grant to George Fox University will support a new wave of efforts that help clergy thrive and lead their congregations more effectively.”

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.

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes among the top Christian universities in the country and is a Christian college classified by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Regional University.” Money magazine ranked it the No. 1 school in Oregon in its 2017-18 “Best Colleges for Your Money” list. More than 4,000 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Ore. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, six seminary degrees, and 13 master’s and doctoral degrees.