CTS Announces Center for Pastoral Excellence

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) announces the launch of the Center for Pastoral Excellence — a strategic initiative to identify, train and sustain outstanding ministers and pastors for Christian congregations throughout the United States, according to Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton, CTS president and professor of theology.

Lilly Endowment Inc. has provided initial funding of $8 million to CTS in part to support the launch of the Center for Pastoral Excellence as well as to enhance other initiatives designed to renew the seminary. Over the course of the next several years, CTS will work to raise the necessary funds to financially sustain the Center.

The Center for Pastoral Excellence at CTS will house an array of programs offering a flexible and responsive model for theological education from vocational discernment to seminary training to professional life.

“While CTS has prepared outstanding pastors for more than 50 years, the Center for Pastoral Excellence will not only rethink and retool theological education, but will provide continuing training and support for pastors long after they’ve completed their studies here,” says Myer Boulton. “This will be a comprehensive and lifelong approach to pastoral education that will be distinctive among other theological education programs in the United States.”

Two of the Center’s programs are already in place. The Discipleship Project enrolls 12 promising students each year in a cohort-based, three-year, master of divinity program with full scholarships, living stipends and immersive learning experiences including travel for site visits to thriving congregations across the country and around the world.

The New Media Project helps religious leaders think theologically about technology and new media through research, theological reflection, writing and training. The New Media project will move to CTS from its current home in New York City early this fall.

The grant comes at a pivotal time in the history of American denominational seminaries like CTS.

“Studies show that two of the most significant impediments to effective church leadership are the huge debt pastors incur during their seminary training and a sense of isolation they feel once they take church positions,” says Rev. Verity Jones, newly-named executive director of the Center for Pastoral Excellence.

“Through Center programs like the Discipleship Project, CTS aims to address these issues by creating collaborative, communal approaches that connect new pastors right from the start of their seminary educations and well into the important first years of their ministries while minimizing their debt loads,” says Jones.

CTS will announce additional partnerships related to the Center for Pastoral Excellence in the coming months.

According to N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s president and CEO, CTS possesses the leadership and infrastructure necessary to make excellent use of the Endowment’s grant.
“With a visionary and energetic new president, a committed board, a talented faculty and staff, a sizeable endowment, beautiful facilities and a diverse student body, CTS is well positioned to play a strong and leading role among seminaries in the United States,” Robbins says. “We believe that the new Center for Pastoral Excellence will strengthen CTS’s ability to prepare and support outstanding leaders for congregations in Indiana and across the country.”

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