$1 Million Grant Awarded to the Campus for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME)
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—Boston, known as the Campus for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME), received a grant of $1,000,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Thriving Congregations in New England—CUME.
This five-year project will be led by Dr. Virginia Ward, Dean of the Boston Campus and Executive Director for the Northeast Region. Funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative, the aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.
Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants available through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.
For Thriving Congregations in New England—CUME, the program will include a multiethnic mixture of urban, suburban, and rural New England churches. CUME is thrilled to partner with the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Fellowship of Hispanic Pastors of New England (COPAHNI), and Vision New England for this endeavor. The purpose of this program is to help New England congregations thrive by assisting them in adapting to meet the changing needs of their congregations and communities. The program aims to create a fresh paradigm for how Gordon-Conwell serves the church for the next 10-15 years.
Dr. Ward’s hopes are twofold: “One is to see Black and Brown urban churches equipped to more effectively serve their communities and two is to create an interdependent, multiethnic network of churches.”
Gordon-Conwell is one of 92 organizations taking part in the initiative. The organizations represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as nondenominational. Several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic and Asian-American traditions.
“In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.
In addition to her teaching and leadership roles at Gordon-Conwell, Rev. Dr. Virginia Ward ministers in the city as Associate Pastor of Abundant Life Church in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Ward is an Gordon-Conwell alumna, graduating with an MA in Youth Ministry (’10) and then a D.Min. with a focus on Emerging Generations (’16). She has the distinction of being the first black female Dean of CUME.