DURHAM, NC – Duke Divinity School has received a $14 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish an initiative that will help Christian leaders combine theological insight with wise business practices to meet real-world challenges, Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead announced Tuesday.
When fully developed, the initiative will teach, coach and provide resources for leaders of key Christian institutions that support and sustain congregations and pastors. Its reach will extend from bishops and executive directors of denominations to senior leaders of seminaries and other organizations that serve congregations.
The initiative will develop a variety of programs that focus on leading and managing Christian institutions, offering some programs on an open-application basis and customizing others for specific groups. The initiative also will convene Christian leaders at Duke and across the country to address pivotal issues, and will develop a website where leaders of Christian institutions can interact to share resources and ideas.
Goals include helping Christian leaders analyze the important issues they face, pursue new opportunities, collaborate with one another in creatively addressing systemic challenges, and support and encourage one another in their work.
“This new project is an exciting and innovative step for Duke Divinity School and Duke University,” Brodhead said. “It builds on distinctive strengths at Duke and exemplifies the university’s special interest in not only developing new knowledge but also applying that knowledge broadly in the service of society. We are grateful for the support from the Lilly Endowment that makes this project possible.”
Divinity School Dean L. Gregory Jones said the initiative advances the Divinity School’s work in cultivating pastoral leaders, building on the extensive work of Pulpit & Pew, a Lilly Endowment-funded series of research and other programs that began in 1999. Duke will develop this new effort in cooperation with Lilly Endowment, denominations, seminaries and other partners involved in earlier projects. Colleagues from Duke Corporate Education and the Fuqua School of Business also will be key partners in this work.
The leadership initiative is an opportunity for the Divinity School to serve the church by strengthening Christian institutions across the country, Jones added.
“Pastoral ministry and congregations, along with Christian institutions that support them, are as important now as ever,” Jones said. “This is a great time to focus on their work in Christian ministry with creativity, energy and a renewed sense of mission. With this initiative, Duke is positioned to be a catalyst by supporting those doing the most creative and effective work, by convening those willing and eager to tackle tough problems, and by bringing constructive new ideas and resources from other spheres into play in the religious domain.”
Craig Dykstra, senior vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment Inc., said Christian leaders need educational programs specifically tailored for their needs.
“Duke’s new initiative promises to play an important role in strengthening the whole institutional infrastructure that is essential for enabling pastors and local congregations to flourish,” he said. “In virtually every major profession, the leaders of its key institutions have places to go where they can learn from the best the field has to offer. Now Duke Divinity School will be able to combine its own extraordinary resources with those of the wider university and elsewhere — including experts in business and other relevant fields — to provide such a context for Christian institutional leaders on a broad scale.”
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 and Company. The Endowment, however, is a separate entity from the company with a distinct governing board, staff and location. Lilly Endowment supports programs nationally in the field of religion as well as in education and community development, primarily in Indiana.
Duke Divinity School is one of Duke University’s seven graduate and professional schools. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and enrolls about 550 students from more than 30 denominations.
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