Caring for Clergy


In an innovative effort to help develop a new generation of strong pastors, the Divinity School has received a $10-million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. that will significantly transform the school's approach to theological education. Divinity dean L. Gregory Jones M.Div. '85, Ph.D. '88 says the Learned Clergy Initiative is designed to inspire a new generation of clergy "that will view ministry as a fulfilling vocation where they can make a real difference in their communities."

The broad-based initiative provides a total of sixty three-year fellowships over the next five years for students at the Divinity School, significantly increasing the number of full scholarships available to students in the master of divinity program. It also calls for a series of sustained learning opportunities that will bring together clergy and lay leaders with faculty and divinity students to cultivate good habits of study, reflection, and conversation. These interrelated projects will be local, regional, and national in scope, and will focus on developing the moral and theological imagination required for strong congregational leadership. Jones says ordained ministers "must be prepared to provide sustained intellectual and spiritual engagement with the deep questions and issues being raised by people in their congregations. It is ironic that while lay people are expressing greater interest in the spiritual life, too many congregations are growing weaker because of unimaginative pastoral leadership."

The Learned Clergy Initiative will also link Duke students, faculty, and staff with fifteen "teaching congregations" across the country, fund two new faculty positions, provide six five-year scholarships for doctoral students, and expand teaching facilities. "Theological education needs to be bold in its commitment to the importance of faithful education and rigorous formation of people for ministry," Jones says. "We urgently need ministers who have a passion for lifelong learning and leadership."

The Lilly Endowment is a private, Indianapolis-based foundation that supports community development, education, and religion.

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