The Diocese of Indianapolis is based at the Indiana Interchurch Center.

The Diocese of Indianapolis has received a grant of $798,500 as part of the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders:

The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively.

Over the next three years, our grant will fund a variety of new and existing financial literacy programs in the diocese designed to enhance ministerial innovation, vitality and sustainability in our congregations. Ultimately, we hope to create a culture of transparency throughout the diocese regarding clergy and finances and how the two impact the wellbeing of our congregations. We are calling this work the Pathways to Vitality Initiative. There are three components to our initiative.

Enhancement of existing financial literacy programs and services for clergy and lay leaders

The Episcopal Church and our diocese have long histories of providing financial literacy education programs including CREDO, Planning for Tomorrow conferences and Vestry College, among others. The Pathways to Vitality Initiative will allow us to “localize” and expand these excellent programs specifically for our clergy, lay leaders and congregations.

Enhancement of congregational innovation, vitality and sustainability

Three pilot congregations will be selected for a two-year intensive learning experience designed to foster ministerial innovation and sustainability by drawing upon leadership best practices and the latest congregational vitality studies. Each pilot congregation must be prepared to build a Vitality Hub Team consisting of clergy and up to five lay leaders who will attend a series of workshops and retreats. A facilitator and volunteer experts will support each team.

A keystone of the pilot program will be a curate residency program. With funds from the grant, the diocese will hire a curate who will rotate among the three pilot congregations for a minimum of eight months each.

Ministerial Excellence Fund (MEF)

The Ministerial Excellence Fund may be used for a variety of purposes to provide financial support to clergy. One possible option may be to use the fund to help clergy and seminarians repay student loans or to provide scholarships to prospective seminarians to help them avoid the burden of future debt. The Bishop will appoint a special committee to fully explore uses for this fund, to develop grant-making guidelines and to make grants.

Bishop’s Transition Fund

In addition to funding these three components, the grant provides $50,000 for unrestricted use by the new bishop to create relationship-building programs and experiences with clergy. We hope this will help our new bishop creatively and successfully launch his or her Episcopate.

Finally, the grant will cover the cost of a comprehensive communication campaign to build awareness for this important work. It also will cover all administrative costs related to the Pathways to Vitality Initiative.

Leading this initiative will be Canon Bruce Gray with ongoing program support from Melissa Hickman. In the weeks and months to come, they will be working throughout the diocese to design and launch Pathways to Vitality. We are in the very early stages of this three-year grant and much work will need to be done to ensure our congregations realized the full benefit of this transformative gift.

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