Acadia Divinity College (ADC) has received a grant of CDN$1.25 million (US$980,526) from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish a Futuring Lab, a dynamic space to conduct research on trends and developments that will impact the future life of the church, as well as experiment with new approaches to theological education.
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 Futuring Lab will have two inter-related elements: a Hub of Trend Research and Analysis, and a Sandbox for Theological Education and the Church. The Hub will conduct, gather, and interpret research on cultural trends, enabling ADC and our churches to make the most of future opportunities and respond well to challenges. This research will feed and inform our plan to explore methods of theological education and establish the Sandbox, a space that will enable us to experiment with new methods and pedagogies. Church participation, with Christian leaders and laity, will be a vital component of the project: we have much to learn from their experiences and much to offer from our research.
The world is changing so rapidly that, in order to thrive, church leaders and their congregations must be able to see ahead and imagine alternative futures for Christian ministry. -Dr. Anna Robbins
“The time is ripe for ADC to undertake this project,” says Dr. Anna Robbins, President of Acadia Divinity College. “The world is changing so rapidly that, in order to thrive, church leaders and their congregations must be able to see ahead and imagine alternative futures for Christian ministry. ADC recently launched Change with Purpose, a set of strategic priorities to fulfill our mission for our current context and calling. The Futuring Lab was key among our priorities. ADC constantly seeks to improve our approaches to theological education and this funding will greatly enhance the ways we equip Christians to serve the mission of God in church and world with transformative impact. We are grateful for the support of Lilly Endowment.”
Acadia Divinity College 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, the 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.
Contact: Dr. Anna Robbins, President
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.
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Acadia Divinity College not only meets the challenges of the day; we strive to lead in maximizing opportunities for the creative development of theological education that equips able leaders for ministry service. We have the strength of our historical roots, in church and university. Out of that tradition, we embrace a spirit of cultural engagement and innovation as we prepare to meet future trends and challenges.