The Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a five-year, $1 million grant to the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology to establish the McAfee Center for Teaching Churches, building on a previous grant that funded a pilot Transition-into-Ministry project.
The new center will enable McAfee to sustain its work in helping young ministers make the transition from theological education to full-time ministry. The previous Endowment grant allowed McAfee to provide resources for young ministers, including a supervising pastor, a peer group, a congregation-based Clinical Pastoral Education program, and a resident support committee.
Other objectives of the Center are to bridge the gulf between theological institutions and churches, strengthen the preparation of graduates for the practical, professional dimensions of congregational ministry, and integrate churches more effectively into the formation of ministers. Ultimately, the Center aims to build a new model for addressing all of these needs in a comprehensive fashion. The McAfee Center for Teaching Churches will provide unique opportunities for all participants: the young minister in his or her first full-time ministry, supervising pastors, congregations, and the School of Theology.
“With the Center for Teaching Churches, the McAfee School of Theology is breaking new ground. This Center will provide a network of support for both graduates and churches while bringing new voices from the church into the process of nurturing young ministers,” said Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, dean of the school. “I predict that just as churches have discovered the vitality of firsthand experience in missions through mission trips in recent decades, in the decade ahead churches engaged with McAfee through this Center will rediscover their calling to participate in the education of ministers for congregational leadership.”
Dr. James Neil (Dock) Hollingsworth Jr., assistant dean and assistant professor of supervised ministry at McAfee, will serve as executive director of the Center for Teaching Churches. A national search is under way for a second, full-time staff position for the Center.
“Because of the commitment of our partner churches, we are poised to create a model of collaboration that is going to strengthen our school, our graduates and our churches for years to come,” Dr. Hollingsworth said. “The Endowment's funding has allowed us to dream boldly about how this exciting project can make the biggest difference.”