Seminary News

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Improve the Economic Well-Being

Grand Rapids, Michigan – Grand Rapids Theological Seminary has received a $117,600 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers.  It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive this funding. 

Personal financial pressures are severely limiting the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermining the effectiveness of too many pastoral leaders.  To help address this issue, Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers.  The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors. 

All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada were invited to submit grant proposals.  GRTS will use its funding to adequately research the specific financial challenges our students encounter including, but not limited to, undergraduate student loans, housing expenses, transportation costs, supporting a family, credit card debt, low salaries upon entry into their fields, and the vocational implications of debt. 

In addition, the grant will allow GRTS to explore consortium agreements with undergraduate institutions, which enable maximizing dual enrollment and advanced standing opportunities to decrease the length of students’ GRTS degree programs, thus reducing the cost to the student. 

The grant will provide GRTS with the resources needed to develop a comprehensive fiscal literacy program that will equip students with a comprehensive understanding of Biblical stewardship and the tools needed for personal and ministerial financial stability.

“Pastors are indispensable spiritual leaders and guides, and the quality of pastoral leadership is critical to the health and vitality of congregations,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. 

“Theological schools play a critical role in preparing pastors and are uniquely positioned to address some of the economic challenges they face,” Coble said.  “The Endowment hopes that these grants will support broad efforts to improve the financial circumstances facing pastoral leaders so that pastors can serve their congregations more joyfully and effectively,” said Coble.  

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli —through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company.  The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development.  Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians.  It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.  More information can be found at


For more information about GRTS programs, visit