Auburn Receives Lilly Endowment Grant
By Auburn Seminary
April 20, 2011

New York, NY – The Center for Christian Leadership at Auburn Theological Seminary has received a grant of $800,000 from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. to equip bold and resilient leaders for 21st century ministry by bringing pastoral coaching to clergy across the country, training new pastoral coaches, strengthening new senior pastors, bolstering women’s leadership, and cultivating wisdom about money in congregational leaders.

Auburn has been a leading innovator in the use of coaching to build excellence in pastoral leadership. “It’s hard to overestimate the impact of coaching on a pastor,” says the Rev. J.C. Austin, director of Auburn’s Center for Christian Leadership. “Pastors tell us it doesn’t just help them do their jobs better, it revitalizes their whole sense of call to ministry and helps them unlock the vision and strengths of their congregations in ways that they never imagined possible.”

The Auburn Coaching Institute currently offers both customized individual programs and an annual “comprehensive program” centered on a six-month coaching relationship and two intensive leadership-development residential programs. Now, Auburn plans to replicate that program in three new locations across the United States (one each in the Southeast, the center of the country, and the West Coast) within the next two years, to make pastoral coaching more readily available.

The Auburn Coaching Institute will branch out in new programmatic directions as well. One of its new initiatives will develop a select group of high-potential women pastors for senior congregational leadership. Another will focus on excellence in senior pastors. And for those interested in the coaching profession, Auburn will offer an academically rigorous and theologically grounded curriculum to equip coaching graduates to become coaches themselves.

In addition to growing the Auburn Coaching Institute, this Lilly Endowment grant supports a new set of Auburn initiatives for pastors on the theology and use of money called Wisdom in Abundance.
“When you talk about money in church circles today, it’s generally a conversation about scarcity,” Austin points out. “That conversation needs to change. We want to develop pastors who are ‘wise about money’ in a comprehensive sense—who have the theological, spiritual, and practical resources to live their lives and lead their congregations from a new paradigm of abundance.”

While this growth in the coaching and “wise about money” work marks a new era for Auburn in many ways, it also connects to and reflects the original mission of the seminary.
“Auburn was founded almost 200 years ago to train pastors ‘hardy enough for the rigors of ministry on the frontier,’” notes the Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, Auburn’s president. “The frontiers for ministry in the 21st century may be different in many ways, but they still require energetic and engaged pastors who can lead vigorously, think rigorously, and serve the church with a generous and entrepreneurial spirit. We are deeply grateful for this grant from Lilly Endowment that will enable Auburn to address the contemporary challenges of leadership for the Church and world.”

Media Contact:
Claudia Gunter, Director of Public Relations

Tags: Auburn Coaching Institute, Auburn Seminary, Center for Christian Leadership, Lilly Endowment

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