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Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation

In 1999 Lilly Endowment launched this initiative which supports church-related, liberal arts colleges and universities in establishing or strengthening programs that 1) help students examine the relationship between their faith and vocational choices, 2) provide opportunities for young people to explore Christian ministry as their life's work, and 3) enhance the capacity of a school's faculty and staff to teach and mentor students effectively in this arena.

The primary objective of the program is to identify and nurture a new generation of highly talented and religiously committed leaders for church and society.

The Endowment values congregations and parishes as key institutions where faith and values are formed, shaped and lived out. To keep these important religious communities strong and vibrant, a new generation of talented, energetic, creative and committed pastors and religiously informed lay leaders is needed.

The college experience is an extremely important moment in the lives of most young people. Many of their most important decisions are made then, from choosing a career to accepting a guiding faith. In college classrooms, young people engage in intense intellectual discussion and debate and, in this process, develop and define their own intellectual and moral commitments. College faculties and administrators play a central role in forming the educational environment and are deeply influential in shaping the aspirations, convictions and commitments of young people.

Liberal arts colleges and universities are particularly well suited to undertake the task of identifying and educating future leaders. The demands of leadership, whether in congregations or professional and business organizations, require leaders who are exposed to a wide range of ideas and who can respond creatively in a changing cultural context.

Since the program's inception, the Endowment has awarded grants to 88 church-related, liberal arts colleges and universities.  Each school has established comprehensive theological exploration of vocation efforts that fit its particular institutional context. Project activities range from incorporating vocational themes into courses to providing student internships in congregations and faith-based organizations, from faculty seminars on religion and spirituality to international service experiences for students. Nearly 400 colleges and universities submitted applications in the grants program. With the May 2006 announcement of renewal awards to assist the participating schools in sustaining their programs, the Endowment has invested $218 million in the grants initiative.

For more information, click here.

The program director for this grant program is Christopher Coble, 317/924-5471.

The coordinator for this grant program is the Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation.  For more information, click here