ATLANTA – Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, through its "Making Connections Initiative" program, has awarded a grant to the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University. The grant of nearly $2 million will allow McAfee to partner with churches in a new pastoral-residency program.
McAfee will work with congregations in the Southeast to establish approximately 30 two-year residencies for graduates who are preparing to be pastors. The program, which starts in June, will benefit both churches as well as McAfee graduates while they work with experienced pastors as they transition from the classroom to the field.
"Our hope is that the program will help to prepare a new generation of pastoral leadership for churches," said McAfee School of Theology Dean R. Alan Culpepper.
The first six residencies will begin in the summer of 2005, with another round of new residencies starting in the summer of 2006. The salary and benefits will be paid equally by the grant and the participating church.
"We've had a great deal of interest already expressed in this program," said J. Truett Gannon, the Watkins Christian Foundation Professor of Ministry Experience at McAfee.
In applying for the grant, McAfee submitted a 31-page proposal detailing the challenges graduates face in making the transition to their first full-time pastorates.
In addition to the churches, McAfee will work with the Care and Counseling Center of Atlanta, the Pastoral Institute in Columbus, Ga., and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia to train as many as 15 ministry coaches to work with McAfee alumni, other ministers and their churches.