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.


Details for the 2020 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs are now available

Oct 31, 2019 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs
Details and application materials for the 2020 programs are now available.
In the 2020 Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program and the 2020 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations, eligible congregations will be able to apply for grants of up to $50,000 each to support a renewal program for their pastor. Up to $15,000 of the grant may be used for congregational expenses associated with the renewal program. Activities funded by a grant in the 2020 programs may begin anytime in 2021.
Application materials (the “Request for Proposals” document) for the 2020 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs include a full description of program guidelines and eligibility. Applicants may apply using either the print application or the online application system. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2020.

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 graduate-level 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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