November 20, 2023
Contact: Judith Cebula
317.916.7327 |

Grants Will Support Programs to
Help Congregations Flourish


Indianapolis – Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved grants to 104 organizations across the United States through its Thriving Congregations Initiative. The initiative’s aim is to encourage the flourishing of congregations by helping them deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other, and contribute to the vitality of their communities and the world.

The grants range from $250,000 to $1.25 million each and total more than $115 million. Reflecting a wide variety of communities, contexts, and theological traditions, the organizations represent mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, peace church and Pentecostal faith communities. Many organizations are rooted in the Black church and in Hispanic and Asian American Christian traditions. They are based in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Many organizations funded through this initiative will help congregations address challenges and opportunities that they have faced for many years but that became more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizations will take a variety of approaches to support congregations, including helping them:

  • Use digital technologies more effectively to support their ministries.
  • Develop or strengthen outwardly focused ministries that serve those in their communities, regions and/or around the world.
  • Engage in ministries that recognize and bridge political and cultural divides, both within churches and the communities that they serve.
  • Strengthen ministries that address the increasing mental health and wellness needs of congregants.
  • Engage in ministries that address racial inequities and injustices and promote healing and reconciliation.
  • Reach out to young people and nurture their spiritual lives.
  • Foster ministries that are more relevant to the lives and concerns of congregants.
  • Use church buildings and other physical assets more effectively to advance the congregation’s mission.

The organizations will also support congregations through an array of programmatic activities, including gathering congregational leaders for peer learning and producing resources for churches.

“Congregations play an essential role in deepening the faith of individuals and contributing to the vitality of communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We hope that these programs will nurture the vibrancy and spark the creativity of congregations, helping them imagine new ways to share God’s love in their communities and across the globe.”

Grant-funded organizations include theological schools, colleges and universities, congregations, denominational agencies, religious agencies, church networks, secular human service organizations interested in working with congregations, and media organizations. Find a list of the organizations here.

In addition, the Endowment has made a $4,265,931 grant to Duke University to continue a coordination program for grantees in all rounds of the Thriving Congregations Initiative.

The Endowment launched Thriving Congregations in 2019 with an invitational round of grants to 23 organizations. An additional round of 92 grants was made in 2020. In January 2023, the Endowment invited eligible organizations to submit proposals in this competitive round. Since 2019, the Endowment has made grants to 220 organizations through the initiative.

The Thriving Congregations Initiative reflects the Endowment’s longstanding interest in supporting efforts that strengthen the vitality of Christian congregations throughout the United States.

About Lilly Endowment
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private 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. While those gifts remain the 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 hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.