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Pepperdine University

Restoration Initiative Cohort

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In 2020, Pepperdine was selected by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., to receive a $1,000,000 gift to participate in their Thriving Congregations initiative. It was one of 92 proposals selected out of approximately 800 Lilly received. Mike Cope serves as the director of the initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.

“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.”

—Christopher Coble
Lily Endowment Vice President for Religion


The name of our program, the Restoration Initiative, seeks to rehabilitate an important word from the history of Churches of Christ (as part of the American Restoration Movement) -- a word that came to mean getting everything right and returning to some mythical pristine past -- by focusing on the large biblical themes of joining God in his “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Through spiritual formation, instruction, mentoring, and team building, we seek to focus our work to help renew congregations from Churches of Christ in the Western United States with the goal to help these churches make changes that will bring renewal, vitality, and effectiveness.

In 2023, seven churches in the Central Valley, from Sacramento to Visalia, are participating.

For more on the Lilly Endowment, this initiative, and the list of grantees, visit the Thriving Congregations website.

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