The Earlham School of Religion at Earlham College is the recipient of a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in Indianapolis. The school says the funding will help establish a hub that will strengthen congregational leadership.
The ESR says the Quaker Center for Transformational Congregational Leadership will support current congregational leaders as well as encourage students to pursue careers in congregational ministry. The center will be used to develop partnerships and grow fundraising capacity.
The school says it will hire a director for the center next year.
“Fewer people are entering the ministry and many congregations can no longer support full-time pastors,” said ESR Dean Gretchen Castle. “We are focused on serving Quakers, but we will call on and use wisdom from other denominations as we build out this vision of supporting the pastoral needs of congregations around the world.”
The ESR says its existing Entrepreneurial Ministry and Bivocational Ministry non-credit certificates will be the basis for the center’s focus.
“We believe ESR can and should be a resource and networking hub for congregational leadership, particularly for Quakers, but not exclusively,” said Jim Higginbotham, associate dean and professor of pastoral care at ESR. “We also learned through our research in talking with non-Quaker alums that they enrolled at ESR because of our values — collaboration, integrity, community and so forth. They think those are the values that are needed in congregations today.”
Earlham received a nearly $50,000 grant from Lilly Endowment in March in the first phase of the Pathways to Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative.