Macedonian Ministry Foundation Receives Grant in the Thriving in Ministry Initiative from Lilly Endowment

Macedonian Ministry Foundation has received a grant of $1,000,000 to help establish Pastors in Community for Renewal and Leadership Development. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.  

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.

The mission of Macedonian Ministry is to develop pastors and congregations for creative leadership in their community. To this end, we have three overarching goals for the cohort program: renew the personal and professional life of pastors, and to help them effectively expand their capacity for leadership and adaptive ministry; stimulate the vitality and spiritual growth and discipleship of the pastors’ congregations; and impact the broader community through community engagement by participating pastors and their congregations. 

The Pastors in Community for Renewal and Leadership Development program’s purpose is to significantly improve the overall effectiveness of Macedonian Ministry’s pastor cohort model by exploring key pastoral transitions (career phase as well as geographic and demographic transitions) across a variety of ministry settings so that pastors not only experience a renewal of personal identity and vocation in a mentoring environment with fellow clergy but also an awakened calling to creative leadership with their congregations, and through them, their communities. Our cohort model has demonstrated success in the renewal of the personal and professional lives of pastors – effectively addressing pastor isolation, preventing clergy burnout, creating and nurturing life-giving friendships among clergy in a community.

Nevertheless, we believe that there is still room for improvement in the way that cohort experience addresses the other components of our mission and goals, namely the impact on congregations and communities, both of which reinforce the vitality of pastors. Although we have realized moderate success in these areas of our program, we would like to harness and more broadly utilize some of the variables that have led to positive outcomes, try new approaches that will focus in these areas and provide substantial learning, and potentially develop new models that could alter our cohort programming in toto. The Pastors in Community for Renewal and Leadership Development program will allow us to pursue these improvements and innovations at the intersection of several ministry settings and types of transitions.

 “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 in ministry,” said Macedonian Ministry’s Executive Director, the Rev. Mark Ramsey. “Since 2008, Macedonian Ministry has established more than 30 cohorts across the globe, reaching nearly 500 pastors and their congregations, and involving over 20 different denominations. And now, thanks to the Lilly Endowment grant to Macedonian Ministry, we will reach approximately 80-100 new pastors and congregations in seven locations across four regions in the U.S.  Thanks be to God!”

Macedonian Ministry is one of 78 organizations located in 29 states that is taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox.

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted 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 Macedonian Ministry’s Pastors in Community for Renewal and Leadership Development, 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 & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment 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 development, education and religion. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state Indiana. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.