Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Who are these Lilly folks?

I am deeply grateful that my sabbatical is underwritten by a grant through the Lilly Endowment. We were fortunate to be selected in a competitive national grant program for clergy and their congregations.

Here is what the program website says about the grant program:
  • Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation, seeks to strengthen Christian congregations by providing an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Renewal periods are not vacations, but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God's life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry. To this end, Lilly Endowment provides funds to enable the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary to make grants to congregations supporting their pastors' renewal experiences.
Where did this endowment come from? Eli Lilly was a Civil War vet and "chemist" (i.e. pharmacist) who made a home in Indianapolis after the war. He began a pharmaceutical company in 1876 that grew and grew. The company became the first mass manufacturer of insulin, penicillin, and the polo vaccine. In recent decades, they have produced Prozac and Cialis, among many others.

Yet as his wealth grew, Mr. Lilly kept strong charitable concerns which were passed on to his children and grandchildren. The endowment that bears their name is worth billions of dollars, with a significant portion directed toward religious communities and their leaders. It would be no exaggeration to declare that the Lilly Endowment is one of the great supporters of American religion.

This is the fourth grant that I have received from the Lilly Endowment. A grant administered through the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (2002) underwrote the development of jazz worship materials for the church. My first pastoral sabbatical (2006) was funded through a now-discontinued program administered by the Louisville Institute. Another grant from the Louisville Institute (2008) equipped me to develop the themes that emerged from the summer of 2006. In addition, I was asked to serve on a grant selection team for the Louisville Institute, preach at a grant event for pastors, and write up an essay about my discoveries for the 2006 sabbatical. I have enjoyed a fruitful and beneficial relationship with the Endowment, and I am deeply grateful for their support.

To read the national press release for our grant, click here.

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