Grant Received to Improve the Economic Well-Being of Future Ministers

(Winston-Salem, N.C., January 31, 2014) – Wake Forest University School of Divinity has received a $249,964 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive this funding. 

Personal financial pressures are severely limiting the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermining the effectiveness of too many pastoral leaders. To help address this issue, Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors. 

All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada were invited to submit grant proposals.

Wake Forest will use its funding to provide:

  • education: enhance the School of Divinity’s curriculum with new courses focused on financial literacy and management,
  • formation: coaching to provide individual financial counseling, establish student-peer mentor leadership, and develop a web portal with financial assessment, management, and educational resources,
  • research: expand research on data about students’ circumstances and economic situations, and
  • integration: create additional paid summer internships for third-year divinity students.

“We want to prepare students with the knowledge and skills to promote congregational health and to enable them to engage in theological, ethical and spiritual perspectives that bring today’s economic challenges into conversation with the distinctive traditions and practices of the Christian faith,” said Wake Forest School of Divinity Dean Gail O’Day. “The program will form, educate and financially support ministry students who will then enter their first jobs with greater confidence about their abilities to manage their own finances and to cultivate congregational financial well-being.”

In cooperation with the University’s School of Business, the School of Law and the Institute for Public Engagement, the School of Divinity will develop courses that are designed to integrate fiscal literacy with Christian life and practice, such as “Economic Life: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives,” “Markets, Justice, and Christian Ethics,” and “Money, Stewardship, and Congregational Life.”

Through the initiative, Wake Forest not only seeks to minimize student educational debt and educational borrowing, but seeks to provide graduates with an awareness of their financial circumstances so they are better equipped to sustain a realistic and responsible financial plan as they enter their initial ministry positions.

“Pastors are indispensable spiritual leaders and guides, and the quality of pastoral leadership is critical to the health and vitality of congregations,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. 

“Theological schools play a critical role in preparing pastors and are uniquely positioned to address some of the economic challenges they face,” Coble said. “The Endowment hopes that these grants will support broad efforts to improve the financial circumstances facing pastoral leaders so that pastors can serve their congregations more joyfully and effectively,” said Coble.  


About Lilly Endowment Inc.
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 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

About Wake Forest University
The School of Divinity is a graduate, professional school that is Christian by tradition, Baptist in heritage, and ecumenical in outlook. Consistent with Wake Forest’s commitment to academic excellence and in the spirit of the University, Pro Humanitate, the School of Divinity prepares leaders informed by a theological understanding of vocation. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.


Media Contact: Mark Batten


Categories: Grants, News