SEBTS Receives $500,000 Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) has received a grant of $500,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support Southeastern’s EQUIP Network, which seeks to empower local churches and ministry organizations to take an active role in the theological education of their students.

Fewer than one-third of all ATS-accredited theological schools received funding in each of the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative’s first two phases.  SEBTS is one of them, receiving $50,000 in Phase 1 and $500,000 in Phase 2.”

“This grant will expand our partnership with churches to equip students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission,” said Chris Thompson, Associate Vice President for Academic Administration. 

The project/effort is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.  

The grant will help to fund the efforts of Southeastern’s EQUIP Network. Through the EQUIP Network, students have the opportunity to receive course credit while actively serving in their local church through mentored internships and practicum courses. Students can earn up to 36 hours of course credit through EQUIP. The EQUIP Network also seeks to train non-degree seeking laypeople and ministry leaders in order to more effectively fulfill the Great Commission in their current context.  

SEBTS is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American and recent immigrant Christian communities. 

“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change.  Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them.  We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.” 

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.  

About Lilly Endowment Inc. 

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being. 

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