HAMPTON, Va. (October 16, 2018) –Hampton University has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Pastoral Renewal Initiative for Ministerial Excellence (PRIME) program. This grant is part of Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.
“Hampton University has a long and rich history with ministers all across the country. Our Ministers’ Conference has been prospering for the past 105 years. We are grateful for Dr. Haggins’ leadership and the Lilly Endowment’s support of Hampton University,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Hampton University is one of 78 organizations in 29 states taking part in the Thriving in Ministry initiative. Those organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox.
Reverend Debra L. Haggins, Ph.D., Hampton University Chaplain, and Executive Director/Treasurer for the HU Ministers’ Conference and Choir Directors’ & Organists’ Guild Workshop, wrote and prepared the grant proposal, and was successful in securing the funds from The Lilly Endowment for this program. “Lilly has always made strong provisions for pastors in support of Christian leadership. They are what I call trailblazers and pathfinders in the realm of advocacy for Christian leaders. When others ignored the call to nurture Christian leaders, The Lilly Endowment, Inc. made it a priority to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations. I am extremely proud that Hampton University is now part of this initiative,” said Dr. Haggins.
The Hampton University PRIME program is a three-year Christian pastoral education and clergy development program designed to strengthen and expand the current Church Development and Leadership Academy (CDLA) inclusive of the Church Music Guild and Academy for Leaders of Worship. The CDLA was developed in 2009 to function continuously as the professional development arm of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, now in its 105th year of continuous service and support to Christian leadership and congregational growth and vitality.
“One of the reasons I believe our proposal was fortunate to be chosen is because I took a developmental approach to pastoral well-being by offering a set of restorative retreats for pastors based on their level and years of experience: novice, early and mid-career pastors. Each cadre needs a specific skill-set in order to lead their churches and congregations efficiently and effectively. Specifically selected pastors will be participating as mentors to help clergy men and women from across the United States to build relationships. The pastoral mentors will serve as role models and guide the participants through leadership challenges in ministry based upon sound theology, theory, experience and expertise,” said Dr. Haggins. “Our program, The PRIME program, seeks to meet the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and familial needs of the Christian pastoral leader which is essential to congregational well-being of the church and the Christian community at-large.”
For the program itself, 40 participants at various stages of ministry, plus 15 mentors were pre-selected to be part of PRIME, which officially began October 1, 2018. Participants were selected from those who attend the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference and participate in academy activities. Once notified, participants will attend orientation sessions which help build a supportive community between the participants and mentors right away. Throughout the year, participants and mentors will attend four restorative retreats which contain community and breakout sessions, address common ground challenges that pastors share in their work, and provide intimate settings where participants and mentors can share personal struggles, life experiences and vulnerable exchanges while developing supportive relationships.
The culminating component of the PRIME Program will require each pastor to develop and implement an innovative project about which they are passionate, is compatible with the goals of the program and fosters pastoral thriving in congregational ministry. Mini-grants from the $1 million grant will help fund these projects.
“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Hampton University’s PRIME program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”
About the 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 Eli and J.K. Jr. - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment 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. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state Indiana. Its grant making in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.