Catawba receives $1 million grant for clergy support

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

Catawba College News Service

Catawba College has received a grant of $1 million to help establish the Catawba Clergy Network Program, which will support members of the clergy in leadership development.

The grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can be mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

Catawba College’s program will focus on college alumni who are members of the clergy in the United Church of Christ, as well as clergy from other denominations. The $1 million grant will be used over a five-year period, with $200,000 allocated each year for staffing dedicated to program development, workshops, conference development, and attendance costs, speakers, accommodations and travel.

The Rev. Kenneth Clapp, chaplain and senior vice president at Catawba, said the planned program offerings will provide enrichment and growth opportunities for clergy who need assistance carrying out the managerial responsibilities of leading a congregation.

“Clergy depart divinity school well-versed in biblical studies but often lacking in knowledge of how to raise funds for their churches, manage a congregational budget, or how to deal with modern issues facing congregants,” Clapp said.

“I see Catawba’s program as a way to help our clergy grow as leaders of a congregation while assisting them in navigating their way through both the business and psychological sides of their work. Often, new clergy have no funding for professional development, and that’s where our program comes into play. We will help create opportunities for clergy leadership development and hope to facilitate mentor relationships where seasoned clergy are tapped to help new clergy.”

Catawba College is one of 78 entities in 29 states taking part in the initiative. They  reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox.

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grant-making to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations. This has been a priority at Lilly for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multifaceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including the Catawba Clergy Network Program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

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 Eli and J.K. Jr. — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Co.