ECF builds up programs in Phase II of Lilly Endowment grant

January 11, 2019

The Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) has received a second three-year grant as part of Phase II of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. This grant will support ECF’s initiative entitled “From Economic Challenges to Transformational Opportunities – Scalability, Impact and Discipleship.”

Since 2012, Lilly Endowment has awarded more than $75 million in grants to denominational and church-related agencies and theological schools to launch new efforts to address challenges that impair the ability of current and future pastoral leaders to lead congregations effectively. In January, members of the ECF’s and the Church Pension Group’s management will attend Lilly’s National Summit on the Economics of Ministry to collaborate with over 800 denominational and seminary Lilly Endowment grant recipients to share ideas and learn from each other. ECF will present a workshop entitled “Financial Boot Camp: An Innovative Model for Congregational Leadership Development” which was successfully piloted by ECF in the Episcopal Church.

Back in October 2016, ECF held its first “Boot Camp” for newer rectors and their lay leaders around the broad theme of addressing the economic challenges facing their congregations in a collaborative and holistic way. After program completion, participants expressed hope and confidence in the future of their faith communities and lay leaders had a greater appreciation for the financial situation of their clergy.

US diocesan bishops have been invited to nominate their newer clergy to participate in ECF’s Congregational Leadership Initiative. In an effort to emphasize the year-long process rather than just the three-day residential component or “Boot Camp”, the program is now called the Congregational Leadership Initiative or CLI. The CLI includes a pre-work assessment process, a residential component, development of an action plan, and professional coaching. In collaboration with the Church Pension Group (CPG), the CLI provides resources, tools, and other support to help address the leadership and financial challenges of congregational ministry in the 21st century.

The Ministerial Excellence Fund (MEF) is another component of the ECF’s Lilly Endowment National Initiative. In 2018, ECF offered matching grants to help seminarians alleviate their seminary educational debt. Seminarians were eligible if they attended one of the Church Pension Group/Episcopal Church Foundation’s Success After Seminary regional meetings. Successful applicants were entrepreneurial seminarians with a vision to help transform the Church but for whom personal financial challenges provided a significant obstacle to being able to answer transformative callings after seminary. In total, ECF awarded $35,000 to 7 seminarians. In Phase II of the ECF’s Lilly grant, ECF will be awarding $75,000 in matching grants over three years to eligible seminarians.

As well, over the next three years through the MEF matching diocesan grants will be given to entrepreneurial clergy with the ability to help transform congregations but for whom personal financial challenges provide significant impediments.

ECF is honored and privileged to be a part of Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative as a continued opportunity to enhance our mission and serve our Church.

For more information about ECF’s Lilly Endowment Initiative, click here.