Pepperdine Receives Lilly Grant for Ministry Initiative

December 20, 2017  | 2 min read

Pepperdine University has received a grant of approximately $1 million from the Lilly Endowment to participate in their Thriving in Ministry Initiative, an effort to help ministers working in their congregations flourish in their roles as pastoral leaders.  

Pepperdine is one of 24 organizations receiving funding from a wide variety of Christian communities, including African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Churches of Christ, Brethren, Episcopal, the Evangelical Covenant Church, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Quaker organizations, as well as interdenominational and non-denominational organizations.

Pepperdine's participation in this initiative will be led by Mike Cope, director of ministry outreach, and Rick Gibson, chief marketing officer and vice president for public affairs and church relations. "Every occupation has its challenges, but there are some unique twists that come along for ministers,” said Cope, who has spent 35 years of his life in the ministry profession. “We're grateful to Lilly for allowing us in Pepperdine's Office of Church Relations to expand our efforts to become a resource for ministers and their churches as they seek to live joyfully and meaningfully."

Thriving in Ministry builds upon recent studies that examined the common professional and personal challenges pastors face, including the Lilly-funded Flourishing in Ministry research project, directed by Matt Bloom at the University of Notre Dame. 

"We have received many reports from pastors about the changing demands of serving as a pastoral leader today," said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment's vice president for religion. "Many pastors are seeking to find role models and wise colleagues who can guide them through professional transitions and challenges encountered in particular ministry contexts. Our hope is that the initiative will support a new wave of efforts that help clergy thrive and lead their congregations more effectively." 

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J. K. Lilly, Sr., and sons J. K., Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and 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 and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.