Emmanuel College receives $500,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Integrating Practical and Scholarly Experiences Key to Success of Ministry

Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto has received a $500,000, five-year grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund its new Teaching for Ministry Program, launching this September 2012. The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment supports the causes of religion, education and community development.

The Teaching for Ministry Program (TFM) brings together a select, interdisciplinary group of doctoral students to teach them how to connect scholarly skills with their vocations as teachers of ministers. Working within Emmanuel College’s already vibrant Contextual Education Program, TFM Fellows learn to nurture pedagogical connections between church and academy, theory and practice, and the intellectual, practical and spiritual dimensions of theological education. Through focused, reflective teaching practices, TFM Fellows become equipped for excellence as the next generation of theological educators.

"Emmanuel’s faculty is honoured by Lilly Endowment’s support of its efforts to produce doctoral graduates who combine academic analysis with practical vision,” says Mark Toulouse, principal of Emmanuel College. “This generous support enables us to focus on the formation of scholars who will be uniquely prepared to teach the next generation of the church’s ministers.”

By bringing together the specialized academic experience of doctoral students in a small-group setting with the active leadership, reflection, and pastoral skills that master’s students are gaining in their work placements, Emmanuel hopes to provide a richer, more cohesive theological experience for its students. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to mentor master of divinity students while my colleagues and I are mentored by professors to become scholar-practitioners doing academic work intertwined with pastoral practice,” said David Csinos, one of the first TFM Fellows. “I believe that programs like this—that creatively combine scholarship and ministry, and theory with practice—represent the future of theological education.”

This grant indicates Lilly Endowment’s continuing interest in supporting endeavours within theological education designed to connect scholarship and ministry in ways that provide practical benefit for the future of the church. It opens up exciting opportunities for cross-border conversations about theological education.

Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, director of both Contextual Education and the Teaching for Ministry Program explains: “The multi-cultural, significantly post-Christian culture in Toronto provides an ideal testing ground for developing the types of practices required for ministry in the 21st century. We are excited to be able to offer a Canadian perspective to ongoing conversations taking place among American theological schools doing similar work.”

About Emmanuel College: Founded in 1928 and associated with the United Church of Canada, Emmanuel College is a constituent college of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. Part of the College’s larger vision is to recognize that the concepts of justice, goodness and love are larger than any one particular religion or tradition can fully define. Emmanuel provides a place where dialogue and discussion can thrive in the pursuit of theological enquiry, diversity and social justice.

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