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News from the Hill December 05, 2013 | back to index

Andover Newton eyes fiscal wellness of future clergy

Andover Newton receives Lilly grant to improve economic well-being of future ministers

Andover Newton Theological School has received a $239,050 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.‘s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive this funding.

Personal financial pressures are severely limiting the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermining the effectiveness of too many pastoral leaders. To help address this issue, Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors.

All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada were invited to submit grant proposals. Andover Newton will use its funding, paid over three years, to develop two programs:

  • A ‘cooperative’ Master of Divinity program in which students commit to five years of paid part-time internship at a local church, allowing them to avoid incurring debt and allowing the church to benefit from their labor and the continuity of a five-year commitment; and
  • Combining the unique contributions of specialized Andover Newton faculty, experts in the field, and denominational bodies to develop and deliver new courses to expand financial literacy for seminarians and clergy in the areas of personal finance, church finances, and fundraising.

“Ministry requires the greatest level of preparation for the least prospect of financial reward of any profession. That’s why it isn’t surprising that student debt is one of the leading causes of ministerial drop-outs,” said the Rev. Dr. Nick Carter, President of Andover Newton Theological School.

“We have an ethical obligation to our students and the church to address this urgent matter,” Carter said. “We are enormously grateful to the Lilly Endowment for their investment in our pilot project to discover new ways of financing seminary education.”
“Pastors are indispensable spiritual leaders and guides, and the quality of pastoral leadership is critical to the health and vitality of congregations,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment.

“Theological schools play a critical role in preparing pastors and are uniquely positioned to address some of the economic challenges they face,” Coble said. “The Endowment hopes that these grants will support broad efforts to improve the financial circumstances facing pastoral leaders so that pastors can serve their congregations more joyfully and effectively.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
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 J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. More information can be found at