The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC) has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Helping Churches Thrive program, which intends to foster congregational vitality across the state.
The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to encourage the flourishing of congregations by helping them deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other and contribute to the vitality of their communities and the world. It is CBFNC’s second grant from Lilly Endowment, the first of which was from the Thriving in Ministry initiative and helped establish the Helping Pastors Thrive program.
“It is gratifying for Lilly Endowment to affirm CBFNC’s capacity to exercise good stewardship over their generosity to promote the flourishing of congregations in our region. Building on our successful Helping Pastors Thrive program, I’m excited to see how Helping Churches Thrive will have a transformative impact on partner churches and their communities,” said Larry Hovis, CBFNC executive coordinator. “I’m also grateful to our staff for their hard work to secure this grant. Now the real work begins!”
The goal of Helping Churches Thrive is to foster congregational vitality through the employment of collaborative learning communities for church leaders, both clergy and laity. These learning communities will bring Cooperative Baptists of North Carolina together to explore congregational identity, mission and practices in light of the changing social, cultural and religious landscape. The program seeks to empower participants to lead their churches in establishing deeper relationships in their communities and in discovering how their congregation’s unique gifts might be developed and utilized for mission and ministry.
Two primary initiatives will be at the core of Helping Churches Thrive: Shared Learning Cohorts and Collaborative Workshops. The Shared Learning Cohorts will focus on rethinking congregational thriving, church sustainability and emerging young adult ministries. The Collaborative Workshops will facilitate learning labs across the state and support retreat opportunities for congregations.
“CBFNC exists because of and for churches. Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations grant will enable us to invest more in helping our congregations understand, navigate and thrive in this ever-changing world,” said Andy Hale, CBFNC associate executive coordinator. “Working side-by-side with our partner churches, discovering the new things God is doing and how we might be a part of it together, is why we do what we do. I am eager to work alongside the Helping Churches Thrive advisory team to develop the most impactful and empowering initiatives for the congregations of CBFNC.”
CBFNC is one of 104 organizations that has received grants though a competitive round of the Thriving Congregations Initiative. Reflecting a wide variety of Christian traditions, the organizations represent mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, peace church and Pentecostal faith communities.
“Congregations play an essential role in deepening the faith of individuals and contributing to the vitality of communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We hope that these programs will nurture the vibrancy and spark the creativity of congregations, helping them imagine new ways to share God’s love in their communities and across the globe.”
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.
About CBF of North Carolina
CBF of North Carolina is a fellowship of individuals and churches partnering in ministry so that all people may know and believe that they and those around them are loved by God. As a trusted ministry partner to local churches, CBFNC is committed to serving Jesus Christ, preserving historic Baptist freedoms and calling out God’s gifts in Christians and churches to engage in ministry in our state and world. Based in Winston-Salem, CBFNC collaborates with the larger Cooperative Baptist Fellowship network. Learn more at cbfnc.org.