Lilly Endowment Grant for Engaged Scholars Initiative

Hartford Seminary is pleased to announce that it has received a $50,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to plan new resources and audiences for the Engaged Scholars program. James Nieman, Professor of Practical Theology, will be the project director.

The Engaged Scholars program is coordinated by the Congregational Studies Project Team, a national coalition of scholars and researchers who share an interest in congregations. The program, funded by Lilly, provides funding and mentoring for academic fellows that helps them refine research engaged with the faith life of congregations.

Since 2008, it also convened three gatherings of religious leaders and scholars, addressing issues of common interest in studying congregations and religious life.

The new grant will support a transitional planning process. The Congregational Studies Project Team will sketch the architecture of a new web-based teaching resource in congregational studies and seek ways to identify new audiences of fellows in fields (e.g., practical theology) and institutions (e.g., seminaries and churches) that have been underrepresented in the previous fellowship awarding process.

The new website, according to the grant proposal, would assist pastors who frequently turn to online sources to inform their work, and support seminary instructors and others charged with training the next generation of pastoral leaders.

For more than twenty-five years, the Congregational Studies Project Team has led the way in inviting scholars to engage in serious, rigorous research on congregational life and encouraging religious leaders to draw on academic research to enrich their ability to provide effective leadership to local religious communities.

Its Engaged Scholars program has invited younger scholars and religious leaders, whose focus is on the practices of local communities of faith, to enter into a program of research and networking.

Participants have:

  • Honed research skills that allow them to take the life of faith communities seriously
  • Built a network of mentors
  • Built a cohort of colleagues who can encourage and stimulate each other in advancing understanding of how engaged scholarship works best
  • Gained support for significant research and writing and the time to do it

It is expected that this transitional grant will lead to the development of a more substantial grant proposal to the Lilly Endowment for development of the website and a third round of Engaged Scholars fellowships.

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