Church-Serve Initiative Bolstered by Lilly Grant

Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers Made Less Difficult Thanks to $250,000 Grant to Seminary

Union Presbyterian Seminary has been awarded a $250,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in support of the seminary’s new Church-Serve Initiative. The program is designed to address the economic challenges facing ministers who accept first calls in small churches with limited budgets.

When seminary graduates are called to serve a small church, they are sometimes offered salaries that are insufficient to cover living expenses, pension plan contributions, and student loan debts. As a result, some graduates take a detour from their ministry call in order to secure jobs that offer pay sufficient for meeting past and present financial needs. The Church-Serve Initiative was developed to help relieve some of the financial burdens seminary graduates face and to provide additional training through the seminary’s Leadership Institute – without additional costs to them – so they are better prepared to accept calls to small churches. As the Church-Serve Initiative helps address the economic challenges facing future ministers, it also will enable more small churches to call pastors who are being equipped to revitalize those churches.

While students are enrolled in degree programs, Union Presbyterian’s Leadership Institute offers extracurricular sessions that will increase their financial literacy related to individuals, families, and congregations. Once a Union graduate accepts a call to a small church, the seminary will partner with the church for financial resources to help pay off existing student loans and to fund continuing leadership training.

The Endowment’s multi-year grant will generate start-up funding and provide an opportunity for the seminary to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of this initiative.

“We are extremely thankful to have been awarded this grant. It is another step in our forward movement as we continue to live out our mission of educating Christian leaders for the 21st century,” says Brian K. Blount, president of Union Presbyterian Seminary.