Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative Press Release

Contact: Kyu Nam Choi

December 7, 2021

Grace Mission University has received a grant of $1,000,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help the university deliver theological education for the 21st Century, through revamping the educational offerings, offering specialized training in multicultural education and technology for a post-pandemic church and digitizing its library holdings.

The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

The grant to Grace Mission University will enable the university to meet the needs of the post-pandemic Korean American church through a four-pronged approach. The university will first modify its current offerings to address the changing needs of the Korean American church. It will also develop its curriculum to address the growing technological needs of the church. Because of the changing nature of the urban setting, the university will also develop programs to help train pastors in the skills they need to minister in increasingly multicultural environments. Finally, the university will digitize its library holdings to broaden access for its students and local church pastors.

Grace Mission University’s librarian is excited about this project because she considers her responsibility to digitize the library as “a capstone project that will leave a legacy of access for generations to come.” Also, the university’s International Student Director believes this grant-funded work will bring Korean American theological education out from the shadows of U.S. theological education and into the forefront of addressing the needs of theological education in the 21st century.

Grace Mission University is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American and recent immigrant Christian communities.

“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it 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 founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.