Macedonian Ministry Foundation has received a grant of $1,000,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish and build collaborative, adaptive, and joyful congregations.
The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.
Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.
The purpose of the program is to cultivate sustainable congregational thriving by helping congregations broaden their perspectives, relationships, and experiences, so they can more clearly contextualize, discern, and embrace God’s call to ministry and mission. This is in service to Macedonian Ministry’s overall mission to develop pastors and congregations for creative leadership in their communities. The approach will allow us to leverage the long-term success we have had by directing more of our learning, resources, and network of relationships more decidedly toward sustained congregational thriving.
Additionally, this approach requires faithful collaboration. Working with pastors and churches over the past several years, Macedonian Ministry is deeply convinced that faithful, disciplined collaboration will be the key to sustainable ministry in the 21st century. This collaboration will be localized, decentralized, diverse, and courageous. It will include ministries collaborating with other ministries, local business, the arts, the nonprofit sector, and more.
Macedonian Ministry had developed three models of pilot programs. One will serve as the base model for a substantial part of the grant period and will involve a larger number of congregations. Two others will be complementary programs, sharing in some of the most fundamental elements of the base model, but adding some key variations that will allow us to maximize the learning and overall impact of the programs. By designing similarities and differences between these models, Macedonian Ministry believes it will be highly instructive, particularly with respect to the nature of congregational learning and collaboration, and the role these play in contextualizing a congregation’s values, practices, and mission.
“Macedonian Ministry is so grateful to Lilly Endowment for this grant in support of our program. We are excited for the opportunity to both expand our ministry in supporting pastors and congregations in their efforts to impact their communities and, to share among others who are focused on thriving congregations,” said Macedonian Ministry’s Executive Director, the Rev. Mark Ramsey.
Macedonian Ministry is one of 92 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as nondenominational. Several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic and Asian-American traditions.
“In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & 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 exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership.