Palm Beach Atlantic University has received a grant of $5 million over five years from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish new routes from theological education to careers in community development and chaplaincy.
The Community Transformation and Chaplaincy program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face to prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.
Palm Beach Atlantic’s School of Ministry developed an interdisciplinary concentration in Community Transformation and Chaplaincy within the Master of Divinity program to prepare graduates for future employment in community leadership and other fields that overlap with ministry, such as hospital, hospice, military and corporate chaplaincy. Graduates will be prepared for careers in organizations ranging from small, community-based nonprofits to large-scale public-private partnerships, major institutions and corporations. Many, but not all, of these organizations are faith-based, and all recognize the critical role that faith-formed leaders bring to mission-driven organizations.
The concentration integrates trauma-informed care and spirituality, organizational leadership and clinical pastoral education (CPE) training. Training accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) is the gold standard for this work, and Baptist Health South Florida is a key partner in providing ACPE-accredited training. The Urban Renewal Center, a Black-led, church-based organization in Norfolk, Virginia, is another key partner. It will develop an ambitious initiative to expand urban clinical pastoral education around the country.
This program is inspired by the same spirit behind the “Lift Every Voice” program PBA launched at Florida Memorial University with a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment just six months ago, but its focus is different, said Dr. Bryan Froehle, professor of sociology and religious studies.
“This grant is all about providing opportunities to strengthen congregational leadership at a time when many smaller congregations cannot afford fully trained leaders. Likewise, this program offers an extraordinary opportunity to women and people of color who have a vocation for ministry and earn a fine degree but, again, cannot find full-time employment in a congregation. And this serves the needs of faith-based and other community organizations all the way up to large institutions, government, and the military. Pastoring does not stop at the doors of the church. Far from it!”
Said Community Transformation and Chaplaincy Director Dr. Ryan Gladwin, “Christianity and theological education are undergoing seismic paradigm shifts. On the one hand, Christianity is becoming less Western and more diverse as it grows primarily in the Southern Hemisphere and among diaspora, immigrant, and minority communities in Europe and the United States. On the other hand, theological education struggles to respond to the different demands and needs of those seeking to be leaders in the ever more diverse church communities. The Community Transformation and Chaplaincy program places PBA and South Florida at the forefront of theological education. It prepares students not only to be pastoral theologians, like traditional theological education models, but also empowers them to be instruments for social change, trauma healing, and economic empowerment. This program will directly impact communities throughout South Florida and make the PBA School of Ministry an innovative leader in theological education.”
Added Dr. Nathan Maxwell, associate dean for graduate programs: “With each passing day, crisis and trauma become more and more normalized within communities of Christian faith. In order to shepherd such communities into flourishing life, congregational ministers and other leaders require formative theological education. At the same time, social and economic constraints disrupt their ability to obtain the education that is essential to their work. Lilly Endowment’s philanthropy will dramatically accelerate the impact PBA and its partners are making.”
The program is being funded through the competitive third phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. Phase three grants are supporting a limited number of large-scale, collaborative efforts that explore and develop new educational and financial models for theological education. Lilly Endowment expects to award additional phase three grants in Fall 2022.
The Pathways initiative is part of Lilly Endowment’s wider efforts to strengthen theological schools and other religious institutions and networks that prepare pastoral leaders to ensure that a diverse array of Christian congregations are guided by a steady stream of wise, faithful and well-prepared leaders.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and 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 supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grant making in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.