Milligan receives $1.2 million grant to equip small churches in Appalachia

Published 9:43 am Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Milligan University has received a $1,231,400 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish a Center for Appalachian Ministry (CAM) at Milligan University. The center will serve as a conduit for thriving small congregations in our region and beyond.
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.
This grant comes approximately two months after Milligan received $1.2 million from Lilly Endowment to establish a Center for Preaching as part of Lilly’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. Milligan now has four active grants from Lilly Endowment that all support people in the ministry.
“We are so thankful for the crucial support being provided by Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregation Initiative,” said Dr. Bill Greer, president of Milligan University. “In recent years, we have learned more about the challenges and strengths of small churches across Northeast Tennessee. The Center for Appalachian Ministry will leverage our resources in a way that helps fortify these congregations.”
According to the 2020 Faith Communities Today study of more than 15,000 U.S. congregations, seven in 10 churches have 100 or fewer weekly worship service attendees. Therefore, the CAM will work alongside Milligan’s existing undergraduate and graduate programs to help equip small Independent Christian Churches in our region with the tools, training and support programs needed to meet the needs of their respective communities.
Milligan University is one of 105 organizations that has received grants through 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.”

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