The Center for Congregational Health, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Division of FaithHealth Ministries, has been awarded a $1 million grant by Lilly Endowment Inc. in support of an initiative designed to empower clergy and lay leaders from different congregations in close geographical proximity to work collaboratively to help their faith communities thrive.
With the grant funds, the Wake Forest Center will establish an Institute for Congregational Health that will organize ten learning communities of 36 people – eight lay leaders and one ordained clergy member from each of four congregations of different denominations located in the same geographical area – that will meet six times over the course of a year. Each meeting will be facilitated by two trained faculty members from the Center for Congregational Health’s network of consultants.
The project’s goal is for the participants to explore their common ground and to learn and practice skills that will allow them to better lead their congregations in their shared geographical context. The initiative is designed to serve smaller congregations, those with an average worship attendance of less than 500.
“We hope that these clergy and lay leaders will be able to clarify mission and vision, identify assets and mine the values of their histories and traditions so they can more deeply and effectively minister to the larger local community,” said the Rev. Chris Gambill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Congregational Health.
Founded in 1992, the Center for Congregational Health has provided direct consultation to congregations of more than two dozen different denominations and faith traditions in 44 states and five foreign countries.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation based in Indianapolis that supports the causes of community development, education and religion.