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Hood Seminary awarded second $1 million grant

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A new grant will allow Hood Theological Seminary to create two positions and a new center on its campus.

The $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment follows another worth the same amount awarded to Hood in August. While the first grant supported endowed efforts at the seminary, which serves about 150 students, the second will help Hood create its Congregational Faith and Learning Center.

The center will train local congregations to tackle issues like church attendance, age demographics and cultural change by helping them improve internal stability, external engagement and ministry.

The grant is part of Lilly’s Thriving Congregations Initiative, and the institution has awarded $93 million in grants as part of this program to 92 organizations. The awardees represent a large number of denominations.

Hood President Vergel Lattimore said he is humbled and pleased with the progress the seminary has made this year. Lattimore said the grant is a vote of confidence for the mission and values of the institution. It shows the institution is responding to the needs of society, he said.

“The bottom line is it’s good news for the seminary,” Lattimore said, adding this will allow the seminary to use some of its academic and theological resources and make a difference in the community.

Hood, while sponsored by AME Zion Church, serves students from a broad number of denominations and is approved by the United Methodist Church University Senate. John Everett, director of Institutional Advancement at Hood, said the seminary has connections to congregations all over North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Lattimore said Hood students are already pastors in the community and expected to perform field works and internships, but the Congregational Faith and Learning Center will help churches assess needs and perform community analyses, which will be different for each church, and partner with the congregations it serves.

Lattimore said the institution wants to build in capacity to keep the center going past the five-year grant timeline. He said he hopes some of the congregations Hood will work with will see the value in the program and want to support it.

“As we reach out to those congregations, hopefully some of them will have resources,” Lattimore said.

The Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based foundation that supports “religion, education and community development.”

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