Indy group to help coordinate $19.4M initiative for innovative ministries

The Indianapolis Center for Congregations Inc. will receive $1.57 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of a $19.4 million national program for helping churches create innovative ministries and engage young adults.

Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment on Friday announced the program, called the Young Adult Initiative. It will provide funding to establish innovation hubs at 12 colleges, universities and seminaries in 10 states and Washington, D.C., as a way to help congregations launch new ministries with young adults, ages 23 to 29.

The grants awarded to the organizations range from $1.38 million to $1.5 million. Each innovation hub will identify 12 to 24 congregations to work with and will be able to provide grants of up to $30,000 to cover the costs to design, launch and evaluate new ministries.

As part of the initiative, the Center for Congregations will receive $1.57 million to support a five-year coordination project. The group will regularly convene leaders of the innovation hubs to share ideas and support each other.

“Congregations can easily slip into old practices of ministry that are unhelpful or even push away young adults rather than engage them and draw them into ministry and service opportunities,” Christopher Coble, vice president for religion for Lilly Endowment, said in a prepared statement. “A significant part of this work will focus on helping congregational leaders understand young adulthood today and the changing contexts that shape what young adults value and expect.”

Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, which will receive $1.38 million, is the only establishment in Indiana selected for creating an innovation hub.

The out-of-state organizations receiving funding include Augsburg College, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Denver Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Hellenic College Inc., Interdenominational Theological Center, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Trinity International University and Wesley Theological Seminary of the United Methodist Church.

Lilly Endowment is one of the largest grant-making organizations in the United States. In 2015, the endowment paid $436 million in grants, with 46 percent flowing to community development and philanthropy, 29 percent going to religion, and 25 percent to education.

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