Lilly Endowment Planning Grant to Bolster Antiracism Initiatives

Bethany Theological Seminary has received a $50,000 planning grant from the Lilly Endowment, which will bolster ongoing efforts to provide students with robust intercultural and antiracist learning opportunities. The grant was issued as part of the Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative that will provide a total of $87.5 million in funding to theological schools across the United States and Canada. The program is designed to help members of the Association of Theological Schools (A.T.S.) “strengthen and sustain their capacities to prepare and support pastoral leaders for Christian churches – primarily ordained pastoral leaders and secondarily congregational lay ministers.”

“We are honored and grateful to be part of Lilly Endowment’s visionary effort to prepare pastoral ministers for the challenges of a rapidly changing world,” says President Jeff Carter. “Over the past year, it has become clear that Bethany must do much more to further the cause of racial justice. This grant will provide us crucial support as we better understand how we can prepare our students to be antiracist pastors and to see how the difficulties of the present time align with our mission.”

Bethany plans to use the grant to hire consultants who will make recommendations about how the institution’s curriculum and policies can better support the Seminary’s antiracist aspirations, and also provide ongoing professional development for faculty and staff. This initial grant will help the institution prepare to apply for the second and third phases of the program, which will award seven-figure grants through a competitive process in 2021 and 2022.

Courtney Hess, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, says that this grant opportunity comes at a fortuitous time for the Seminary. “Our students have asked us to broaden the range of experiences and perspectives they will encounter at Bethany, particularly with regard to race. As a predominantly white institution, it is incumbent on us to carefully examine our approach to theological education and ministry preparation as we seek to better prepare our students to engage in antiracist ministry. This grant will be used to support our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion — so that the world flourishes.”