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Boston University School of Theology awarded Million Dollar Lilly grant

Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH) is pleased to announce Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded BUSTH a $1.5 million five-year grant to create an innovation hub to foster creative vocational reflection in congregations today. This hub will focus on the important BUSTH constituency of mainline New England Protestant congregations. BUSTH officials intend to share resulting research with others across the United States.

Boston University School of Theology is one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment.

The grant awarded to BUSTH is one of 13 grants Lilly Endowment is making through Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose, a $20 million national initiative. The initiative is designed to help US-based organizations as they work with congregations to build new ministries and lift up practices of discernment of vocation in Christian traditions. At BUSTH, the Center for Practical Theology will be the locus of the grant project.

The BUSTH innovation hub will support the launching, testing, and refining of innovative ministries designed to support lives of meaning and purpose. A collaborative effort involving faculty across several disciplines, it will focus on both communal and personal dimensions of calling.

The innovation hub will connect congregations and Boston University School of Theology faculty for mutual learning, support, and accountability over time, with the following objectives:

  1. To foster theological reflection, articulation, contextual exploration, and study of Christian calling within and among congregations, with attention to individual and congregational calling;
  1. To develop effective means of naming the pressing vocational questions, challenges, and aspirations in particular congregational contexts and analyzing those in light of related social, cultural, political, and economic forces/structures;
  1. To create a generative, contemplative, and collaborative space for envisioning new and creative ministries that support vocational discernment and living, individually and communally;
  1. To support the launching, testing, and refining of such ministries and to maximize the learning gained from such initiatives for the benefit of other congregations;
  1. To integrate the work of the innovation hub i n faculty research and publications, thereby increasing the practical impact of the work and making a scholarly practical theological contribution to existing literature on vocation, congregational studies, and church renewal;
  1. To inform the teaching and formation of new pastoral leaders and theological educators through curricular innovation and mentoring shaped by the emerging wisdom of the innovation hub.

The resulting research of the innovation hub will be concurrently integrated in BUSTH faculty research and publications, thereby increasing the distribution of the work and making a defined scholarly contribution to existing literature on vocation, spirituality, congregational studies, and church renewal.

"We are very grateful to Lilly Endowment and to leaders in BUSTH for making this significant project possible," said Rev. Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore, Dean of the Boston University School of Theology. "By joining congregations and teacher-scholars, we seek to foster practices of vocational discernment and meaning-making, and to deepen our collective understanding of Christian vocation and the mission of the church. At a time when churches and individual Christians seek renewal, the project promises to bear abundant fruit."

Kimberly Macdonald, Marketing & Communications Manager, Boston University School of Theology

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.

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