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Published: Friday, 12/3/2010

Grant to link more new ministers, pastors

WORTHINGTON, Ohio — The United Methodist Church's regional body has received a $900,000 grant to help seminarians and newly ordained ministers get some real-life experience before becoming pastors.

The Transition-into-Ministry grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. will help cover salaries and other costs for new graduates or ministers to spend the first two years of their careers working alongside veteran pastors in the denomination's West Ohio Conference.

The conference's fledgling Resident Program is modeled after the medical community's system in which doctors spend time developing their skills as residents before going on their own.

The Toledo Catholic Diocese has a similar program in which seminarians spend one year as an intern at a parish.

“This is truly a landmark day for our conference and we are most grateful,” Bishop Bruce Ough said in a news release announcing the award.

“A lot of things crop up that are not necessarily taught in seminary,” said Gretchen Wolfram, a Lilly Endowment spokesman. “These grants help new pastors be part of the church and learn how that particular church works. They get the opportunity to give sermons, lead worship services, visit sick members, teach Sunday school, and learn other responsibilities of being in ministry. The grant creates a real synergy with churches and judicatories to make good things happen.”

Lisa Streight, director of communications for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, said the Lilly funds will be disbursed over a five-year period. The conference currently has two ministers in its Resident Program, one in Reynoldsburg and the other in Cincinnati, and the grant will be used to expand the program.

There have not yet been any residents in the Toledo area, Ms. Streight added.

The Lilly Endowment is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly and Co. The endowment awards its grants to projects that benefit young people and promote leadership education and financial self-sufficiency in the nonprofit sector.

Since 1999, the Lilly Endowment has invested $38 million in 31 institutions for its Transition-into-Ministry program, which specifically aims to help new ministers “establish their identities and develop the work and study habits necessary” in providing spiritual leadership to their congregations.

The West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church has nearly 200,000 members in 1,200 congregations spanning 58 counties.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.



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