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NTS Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Improve the Economic Well-Being of Future Ministers

Nazarene Theological Seminary has received a $250,000 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.  With the help of this funding from Lilly, NTS will seek to address the financial burdens faced by seminary graduates as a result of school debt and low incomes traditionally paid to pastors.  The school’s initiative, Nazarene Clergy:  Moving from Financial Bondage to Liberation, is a partnership between the International Board of Education of the Church of the Nazarene and NTS. The project will develop tools that will equip clergy with the resources necessary to make sound financial decisions as they prepare for service in the Church.

 “Research clearly suggests that the single most significant obstacle to peace in the home of our clergy and the emotional impediment to meaningful service is financial debt.”  Shared James Copple, NTS alumnus and consultant to the NTS Office of Institutional Advancement.  “Financial debt is a shadow hanging over our congregations and can have a crippling effect on ministry.  This project will address this silent epidemic in our Church.” 

“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

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Reader Comments (2)

I am so glad to see this initiative. There needs to be a way for the incoming students to be truthfully informed of the financial obstacles they will face following graduation. Even with significant financial assistance from military service, I was still saddled with a loan that took 10 years to pay back. It was financially impossible to stay in pastoral ministry so I was forced to seek other avenues of employment. That may have been God's best plan for my life, but I wonder how things would have turned out if I had not had the massive debt.

11.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Perhaps the seminary will consider hiring a "financial aid specialist." There are so many additional options available to students other than the high interest government loan. Unfortunately, without a highly skill financial aid personal, or the man power to secure better options, the average student suffer. A class on debt. consolidation or financial wisdom does not seem to be the best use of the grant monies. I would think since clergy are serving in non profits, for low wages , they might be able to secure debt forgiveness ... it is these kinds of questions/options that this generation of students need.

12.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned Student
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