Pepperdine University Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Establish the Restoration Initiative
Pepperdine University has received a grant of nearly $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the Restoration Initiative, an effort focused on strengthening Churches of Christ in the Western United States. Funded through the endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative, which seeks to strengthen Christian congregations in order to help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world, the program aims to bring renewal, vitality, and effectiveness to churches through spiritual formation, instruction, mentoring, and team building.
“The Restoration Initiative seeks to rehabilitate an important word from the history of Churches of Christ,” says Mike Cope, director of ministry outreach at Pepperdine, who will lead the program. “Unfortunately, 'restoration' came to mean getting everything right and returning to some mythical, pristine past. However, it is helpful as we seek renewal by focusing on the large biblical themes of joining God in his ‘restoration of all things,’ as the book of Acts puts it.”
Pepperdine University is one of 92 organizations taking part in the Thriving Congregations Initiative. The organizations represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as nondenominational. Additionally, several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American traditions.
“In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,” says Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.”
In 2019, the Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations. The Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants available through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.