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Louisville Seminary receives $1 Million Lilly Endowment Grant to support Christian Parenting & Caregiving Program
September 21, 2022 (LOUISVILLE, KY) - We are pleased to announce that Louisville Seminary has received a $1 Million Christian Parenting and Caregivers grant from the Lilly Endowment. The aim of this initiative is to enhance the religious education and formation of children and youth by helping parents and caregivers engage in Christian practices to pass on their faith and values to their children. The scope of the grant is inclusive by embracing children who are biological, adopted and foster and youth under the care of an adult such a grandparent. In keeping with our values, Louisville Seminary will engage caregivers and parents of many races, ethnicities, gender identities, ages and sexual orientations.

The ongoing work of Dr. J. Bradley Wigger on children and faith over the years helped to put Louisville Seminary on the Endowment’s radar for this. In addition, our Marriage and Family Therapy program with faculty who are knowledgeable about human development was also key.

“In part,” Wigger said, “the funds will help support the research for the Religious Imagination of Children project that explores how children think about the substance of their religious lives—God, church, prayer, and creation, for example. In addition, we are interviewing parents, grandparents, and caregivers not only about the importance of passing on faith to their children, but the ways in which children themselves and their faith have deeply impacted their own spirituality. Children pass on faith to adults as well.”

The Endowment invited us to apply for both a Phase 1 planning grant and the Phase 2 implementation grant at the end of February this year. We submitted a proposal for the planning grant on March 14th and asked Alicia DeMartra Pressley to spearhead the planning grant phase. Alicia did excellent work by meeting with LPTS faculty and staff, parents and caregivers in April, May and June. She also convened an advisory committee of caregivers, pastors and religious educators to provide feedback about approaches to passing faith to children and youth. Her work provided an excellent foundation for our Phase 2 grant application. She also provided substantial budget recommendations for the final proposal.

The grant includes funds for Louisville Seminary to hire a new faculty colleague in Pastoral Care. This new colleague will direct the grant, teach and develop educational seminars and teach pastoral care courses in our degree programs for the next five years. The Director will also help build a website with videos and other resources which will be instructive.

The team who wrote this grant over the summer includes: Anne Monell, Vice President of Advancement and Stewardship; Alicia DeMartra Pressley; Lauren Yates, grant writer/consultant; and Dean Debra Mumford. Input from faculty members and staff including Brad Wigger, Loren Townsend, Lesley Earles and Beth Troy helped to make our grant application successful.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this Christian Parenting and Caregivers grant is that Lilly defines “practices” very broadly. In addition to acts of piety such as prayer and worship, practices of social activism and advocacy, nature walks and other activities that parents and caregivers can do together with their children will also be included. We are grateful to the Endowment for allowing us to be part of this very important and consequential work,” says Dean Debra Mumford.

Seminary President Alton B. Pollard, III, adds, “The intergenerational aspect of this grant, the sharing and transmitting of faith’s wisdom, in knowledge and practice, from elders to youngers and in return, is exciting. Learnings gleaned will be impactful across our seminary degree programs and of real value to everyday households no less to households of faith. Thank you to our LPTS colleagues who collaborated to bring this opportunity from the Lilly Endowment to fruition.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 to further its founders' commitment to community development, education and religion. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and increase the public's understanding of the role of religion in American life.
About Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Founded in 1853, Louisville Seminary offers an inclusive and diverse learning community, welcoming students from wide ecumenical backgrounds while maintaining its long, historic commitment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Louisville Seminary is committed to building bridges across the world's religious, racial and cultural divides. It is distinguished by its nationally-recognized marriage and family therapy and field education programs, the scholarship and church service among its faculty and a commitment to training women and men to participate in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ. For more information, call (800) 264-1839 or log onto To make a financial gift supporting Christ-centered education at Louisville Seminary, click here