Holland, MI – Western Theological Seminary (WTS) has received a grant of $1 million to support the launch of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination and to expand student access to the seminary’s Hispanic Ministry Program (HMP). 

The effort is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

The grant will support the Seminary’s Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination as it partners across denominational lines and nurtures pastors toward a lifetime of humble, faithful ministry. The Peterson Center launched this fall and continues the work of Eugene Peterson, author of 40+ books and translator of The Message, by encouraging pastors, artists, and hopeful-but-often-perplexed Christians toward a God-drenched life that renews our humanity, creativity, and sacred calling. 

The grant will also support WTS’s Hispanic Ministry Program as it establishes new partnerships, identifies and recruits new students, and integrates the ethos of Peterson’s ministry into its academic programs. It will also open the door for seminary education to students who have not historically had access to affordable ATS accredited programs. 

“We are so grateful for this generous grant from Lilly Endowment. The church is God’s chosen vehicle to share the good news of the Gospel–the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ–and the abundant life that we may live through the Holy Spirit,” said WTS President Felix Theonugraha. “We are excited for the opportunity through this grant to raise up leaders for God’s church by cultivating faithful and humble pastoral imaginations and by equipping the growing Hispanic congregations in the United States.”

WTS is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). 

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr., and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. In keeping with the founder’s wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.  The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate, and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.