CCU Awarded Three-Year Lilly Grant

Cincinnati Christian University has received a grant of $986,807 as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively. The Endowment is giving $28 million in grants through this initiative. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to supporting the pastoral leadership development of clergy serving in congregations across the United States.

CCU is partnering with the Lilly Endowment to develop and implement the “Double Honor Initiative.” The initiative’s title is inspired by a verse from the Bible, 1 Timothy 5:17, which says that leaders “who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” “Double honor” here is widely understood to refer to both respect and material compensation, making this verse foundational to the Church’s theology of paid pastoral leadership. In the context of the Initiative, CCU wishes to extend “double honor” to students and alumni who serve in a variety of churches and not-for-profit organizations by providing a wide range of tools and services to enhance effective leadership.

The “Double Honor Initiative” will be directed through CCU’s new “Center for Church Leadership.” Through this initiative, CCU seeks to create a sustainable model that addresses the economic challenges facing pastoral leaders and reduces attrition caused by economic concerns. Relief will come in three forms:

  1. Direct financial assistance to pastoral staff and congregations/ organizations within the Center’s network;
  2. For-credit and not-for-credit educational and consulting opportunities that will improve the personal and organizational financial management skills of ministerial staff;
  3. Educating congregations for best practices of ministerial compensation. Particular attention will be given to the development of self-sustaining enterprises that can enhance the financial sustainability of churches and organizations and, thus, of their ministerial staff.

Dr. Tim Wallingford has been appointed as Director of CCU’s “Center for Church Leadership” and will be guiding the “Double Honor Initiative.” Dr. Wallingford comes to CCU after successful life-long leadership within the local church. He has served as minister of congregations with 23 members to 2300 members. Wallingford shares, “The Center will provide mentoring, coaching gifts, scholarships, resources, networking, partnership and much more to ministers and the local church.” CCU’s Interim President, Dr. David Ray, notes that “The awarding of this almost $1 million grant from the Lilly Foundation is a strong encouragement to Cincinnati Christian University and will provide a significant resource to strengthen its long history of preparing men and women for leadership within the local church and not- for-profit organizations.

Cincinnati Christian University is one of 27 organizations taking part in the initiative, which represents a variety of Christian traditions, including Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God (Anderson), Episcopal, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Wesleyan churches, as well as non-denominational, and historic African-American Christian communities. They include denominational pension and benefits boards; local and regional denomination judicatories, such as synods and dioceses; and denominational foundations. CCU is currently the only institute of higher education associated with the initiative.

Each program is customized to the needs of pastoral leaders in each religious tradition, but the programs have much in common as they:

  • provide incentives for clergy to take part in personal finance education
  • offer low-or no-cost financial planning and counseling
    match contributions for pastors and congregations that enroll in
  • pension savings programs
  • help pastors create emergency funds
  • develop strategies that help young pastors pay down or eliminate educational debt
  • create new scholarships so that seminarians borrow less while in school

“Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church. Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “These organizations understand the importance of the financial well-being of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve.”

An additional grant to the Indianapolis Center for Congregations will establish a coordination program for the initiative that will help the Endowment track success. It will bring together leaders of the diverse programs to foster mutual learning and support and help build a network of organizations committed to supporting the financial well-being of pastors and their congregations.

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 J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grant making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

Dr. Tom Thatcher, Chief Academic Officer,  513.244.8172
Dr. Tim Wallingford, Director of Center for Church Leadership, 513.244.8168