Azusa Pacific University has received a grant of $996,890 to further the growth of its programs focused on pastoral health and wellbeing. The grant 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.

The impetus for this initiative is the Flourishing in Ministry project at the University of Notre Dame, which is also funded by Lilly Endowment. Chris Adams, Ph.D., executive director of the university’s Center for Vocational Ministry (CVM), will direct the effort. Adams is a senior research associate with the Flourishing in Ministry project, which informs the key aspects of what CVM is providing for ministry leaders.

Housed in the School of Theology, the Center for Vocational Ministry provides ministry-focused mentoring to ministry leaders, seminary and college students as well as youth pastors and high school students. The center assists with discerning one’s ministry vocation, pastoral health and wellbeing, and spiritual and leadership development. “We are grateful to the Lilly Endowment for this generous grant, which will allow the Center for Vocational Ministry to substantially expand its current programming and support to pastors and their families through innovative continuing education and coaching resources focused on pastoral health,” said Adams. The grant brings CVM’s total grant amount to $2.1 million since its launch in 2015.

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grant making to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grant making 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 the Center of Vocational Ministry at Azusa Pacific University, 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.