A grant from the Lilly Endowment will support efforts by Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan University in addressing challenges that limit prospective students and underrepresented populations from attending and graduating from the Tennessee school.
Emmanuel’s grant funding will be applied to institutional assessment and strategic planning for continued enrollment growth, as well as additional support services for retention and success.
“Through [Lilly Endowment’s] generosity, our team hopes to learn more about the dreams and aspirations of young people who feel a call to ministry and are considering seminary,” said Dr. Gary Selby, professor of ministerial formation. “We also want to explore the obstacles that might stand in the way of that calling, so that we can make a graduate degree from Emmanuel accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.”
Emmanuel has assembled a research team that also includes Adam Bean, assistant professor of biblical studies; Erin McDade, director of advancement for CMF International in Indianapolis; Hannah Simeon-Cox, pastor of connections at Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, Ill.; and several current Master of Divinity students.
The team will use surveys and focus groups to better understand challenges prospective and current students may face at Emmanuel, allowing the seminary to better serve churches and organizations. The research also will incorporate the knowledge and perspectives of current ministry leaders.
“The faculty know that virtually every student who enrolls here was influenced by someone else, a minister or a mentor, who encouraged them to consider seminary and likely pointed them to Emmanuel,” Selby said. “We want to learn more about how those leaders view the future of the church and of ministry, as well as how they perceive Emmanuel.”
The research team’s survey will be open through June, and ministers interested in participating in the survey and/or in a focus group can email [email protected].
Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative strives to help strengthen and sustain theological schools as they prepare and support pastoral leaders for Christian churches. Overall, Lilly Endowment has allocated $87.5 million to the three-phase initiative. Schools could request up to $50,000 for institutional assessment and strategic planning activities for phase 1. In phase 2, schools may apply for a grant of up to $1 million, and in phase 3, the grant award can reach $5 million. (Phases 2 and 3 proposals and concept papers are due later this year.)
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic 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.