Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) Office of Formation and Leadership Development (OFLD) received a grant of $418,135 USD as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry initiative. The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.
The Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.
The OFLD proposal will support MCC pastors in the formation of vital vocations of ministry through the development of collegial relationships with other ministers – MCC as well as ecumenical partners – who can serve as intentional mentors and collegial support systems. In order to do so, MCC will focus on pastors at key times of transition in their ministerial careers such as those in first-call situations, those who are moving to new calls, transitioning from staff to senior leadership, or those transitioning to bi-vocational ministry.
To accomplish this, the grant will fund a series of retreats over a period of five years for MCC clergy in vocational transition and their mentors as well as offer ongoing support through clergy Communities of Practice.
Since 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches has called and worked for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender persons in the church and in ministry leadership. Spiritual leaders in MCC’s movement, including primarily pastors, have served with distinction amidst the realities of poor-to-no compensation, social isolation, and active and/or violent threats to their lives. MCC leadership believes its pastoral leaders and churches are precisely the type that the Thriving in Ministry initiative can most benefit.
Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West, Director of the OFLD, said, “Given our size as a small denomination, I firmly believe this generous grant from Lilly Endowment has the capacity to strengthen and change every pastor in our denomination who is going through a vocational transition in their ministry. Congregations led by those pastors will also thrive in ministry because of the support pastors will receive through this grant.”
Metropolitan Community Churches is one of 78 organizations taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox.
Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.
“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including the OFLD/MCC program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”
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 Eli and J.K. Jr. – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment 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. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state Indiana. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.