Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative
The Vancouver School of Theology has received a grant of $1.0 million USD from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help advance its work in theological field 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.
Theological Field Education (TFE) at VST has, for many years, been a mutual experience in which students, mentors in various areas of practice, and the school’s faculty have established a teaching and learning network. TFE has a central place in the school’s core mission to “prepare thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders”, in conversation with other faith traditions and the Indigenous church. This funding enables VST to develop further its teaching, mentoring and learning practices so that they are even more responsive to the challenges of ministry. It will work closely with its denominational partners, leading churches and effective clergy mentors to deliver TFE experiences that form students for faithful and relevant ministry.
“The Vancouver School of Theology is thrilled at this grant. It will make possible the development and implementation of a stellar program of theological field education through a network of experienced practitioners that will prepare and inspire students for ministry in our time.”
Richard Topping, VST President
“At the core of Theological Field Education is reflection on actions in ministry and leadership. This grant – coming in this critical almost-post-pandemic moment – will provide VST with an extraordinary opportunity to reflectively engage with partners around the strengthening of mentoring and the preparation, support and encouragement of leaders for the emerging future.”
Steven Chambers, VST Interim Director – Theological Field Education
The Vancouver School of Theology 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.