About the Center for Pastoral Excellence

The Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is a strategic initiative that addresses the long arc of ministry—from vocational discernment to seminary training to sustaining outstanding ministers and pastors throughout their lifetimes.

The Center was established in the summer of 2012 with generous initial funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. It houses an array of programs offering a flexible and responsive model for theological education.

“This will be a comprehensive and lifelong approach to pastoral education that will be distinctive among other theological education programs in the United States,” says CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton.

The Center's five initiatives include, The Discipleship Project enrolls 12 promising students each year in a cohort-based, three-year, master of divinity program with full scholarships, living stipends and immersive learning experiences including travel for site visits to thriving congregations across the country and around the world. The project is led by CTS faculty mentors.

The New Media Project helps religious leaders think theologically about technology and new media through research, theological reflection, writing and training. The New Media Project moved to CTS from its previous home at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

The Center for Pastoral Excellence administers the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at CTS, which have provided grants to congregations to support pastoral renewal programs for the last 13 years. Two competitive programs—one for Indiana congregations and the other for congregations in the other 49 states—serve hundreds of communities across the country.

The Center also supports the Lilly Endowment’s Pastoral Excellence Network, which launched in January 2013. The network resources new clergy residency programs as well as peer learning communities for clergy, clergy groups, and the institutions that form them.

The Academy of Preaching and Celebration is the latest initiative to be developed. It is led by Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas, who has joined the CTS faculty in 2013. A premier leader in preaching and African American traditions, Thomas will lead an initiative focused on excellence in preaching and worship.

Together the initiatives of the Center for Pastoral Excellence are more than the sum of their parts. We hope they will inform and inspire not only each other, but the larger CTS community and Christian communities across the United States.

A word about this site

We invite you to explore the many offerings on this website as well as the website of our home, Christian Theological Seminary. Discover each initiative on its own terms and experience the connections between them. View the aggregate news, blogs, events, and videos of all initiatives on the Center’s home page. You may sign up for RSS feeds or to receive newsletters for each initiative or for all of them. Read about the leaders and participants. Join the network. Follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter.


Christian Theological Seminary Announces 28 Indiana Congregations Awarded Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program Grants

Sep 24, 2018 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs
Christian Theological Seminary, in its role of administering the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, has awarded 28 grants to congregations in 23 Indiana communities. The 2018 Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations allows congregations to support their pastors with the gift of extended time away from ministerial duties and responsibilities for reflection and renewal. Pastors use the respite from congregational leadership to engage in renewal experiences that often include travel, scholarly research and immersive experiences with different cultures and traditions.

Congregations awarded the Clergy Renewal Program grants applied to the program to honor their pastors. Congregations in the 2018 Indiana program represent Catholic, Protestant, and nondenominational traditions. Each congregation and its pastor worked together to determines how he or she will use the grant to replenish, restore and renew his or her ministry. Travel to domestic and international destinations and journeys into nature are popular activities for grant recipients. One pastor plans to travel to France to immerse himself in French spirituality, language, and culture. Another pastor will embark with family on a U.S. road trip along Route 66.

In addition to travel as a form of renewal, some pastors will use their time away from their congregations to engage in new spiritual disciplines, focus on time with loved ones, and study topics that renew their excitement for preaching and congregational. Study topics include congregations exploring models for intergenerational mentoring and pastors studying art history and cooking.

Since Lilly Endowment introduced the Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations and National Clergy Renewal Program grants in 1999 and 2000, more than 2,630 congregations across the nation have participated in the programs. In the 2018 round of funding, Indiana congregations received grants totaling more than $1.35 million. The grants recognize the tremendous amount of energy, time and leadership that pastors invest in their congregations.

“Pastors play an important role in nourishing the spiritual lives of individuals and in guiding the work of the Christian congregations they serve,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Through these grants we seek to honor pastors for their extraordinary service and enable them to engage in a brief period of rest and renewal. We have learned that such experiences invigorate the leadership of pastors and bring new vitality to their congregations as well.”

Congregations were invited to apply for program grants of up to $50,000. The application process was participatory in nature, involving congregations in the design and development of the renewal experiences. Up to $15,000 of the grant could be allocated to fund interim pastoral leadership, as well as renewal activities within the congregation. Pastors were encouraged to include their families in the renewal activities.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Saler, director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, noted that the Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations leverages the reciprocal dynamics of support, trust and encouragement reflective of healthy congregations. “The program is designed to respect the innate human need for times of service and replenishment. It provides a means for congregations to express appreciation for their leader’s service and respect for his or her health and energy for continued ministry,” Saler said.

Christian Theological Seminary has administered the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs since 2012. “At a time when society is experiencing unprecedented levels of change at ever increasing speeds, it is rewarding to offer programs that recognize the value of retreat and renewal,” Saler said.

Award Recipients:

Bloomington – Trinity Episcopal Church, the Rev. Henrietta Grossoehme

Carmel – Carmel Christian Church, the Rev. Jerry Zehr

Crown Point – South Point Baptist Church, the Rev. Jonathan Cuozzo

DeMotte – Bethel Christian Reformed Church, the Rev. Richard T. Vanderwal

Elizabethtown – Crossroads Community Church, the Rev. Darlene McIntyre

Fort Wayne – Emmanuel Lutheran Church, the Rev. Thomas Eggold

Fountaintown – Fountaintown Christian Church, the Rev. Joshua Hahn

Greenville – St. Michael Catholic Church, Bradford, the Rev. Aaron Pfaff

Greenwood – Stones Crossing Church, the Rev. Philip (Scott) Luck

Indianapolis – Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Indianapolis, the Rev. David Robert McClean

Indianapolis – Korean Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, the Rev. Hyung Kim

Jeffersonville – First Christian Church of Jeffersonville, the Rev. Amanda Wagoner Meade

Kokomo – New Life Assembly of God, the Rev. Charles Blankenship

Kouts – Hopewell Mennonite Church, the Rev. Joel Aaron Short

Lafayette – Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the Rev. David Michael Doane

Lafayette – Trinity United Methodist Church, the Rev. Tracey D. Leslie

Muncie – Maple Grove Church of God, the Rev. Stephen DeLisle

Muncie – Unitarian Universalist Church of Muncie, the Rev. Seth Carrier-Ladd

New Palestine – Community Christian Church (Independent), the Rev. William Todd Beale

New Palestine – Cross of Grace Lutheran Church, the Rev. Aaron Stamper

New Palestine – New Palestine Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Travis Hacker

Noblesville – Noblesville First United Methodist Church, the Rev. R. Aaron Hobbs

Rensselaer – First Church of the Nazarene of Rensselaer, the Rev. Lisa Ulrich

Richmond – Lighthouse Assembly of God, the Rev. Ralph Holdeman

Saint John – Suncrest Christian Church, the Rev. James Ward

Terre Haute – Oregon Baptist Church, the Rev. Fred Harrison

Valparaiso – Christ Lutheran Church, Valparaiso, the Rev. Tim Knauff

Zionsville – St. Francis In-The-Fields Episcopal Church, the Rev. C. Davies Reed

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., with gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking 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. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.

About Christian Theological Seminary
Located in Indianapolis, IN, Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is a fully accredited ecumenical seminary, open to all, affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It offers nine graduatelevel degree programs, each rooted in a rich history of biblical scholarship, theological openness, and spiritual discernment. More than 30 denominations are represented among CTS faculty and students. Additional information about CTS is available at www.cts.edu.
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