In 2013, we posted an article titled “What’s Up with Lilly Endowment – Funding Pastoral Sabbaticals with a Contemplative Agenda.” Below is a copy of that article (with excerpts from a related 2007 article). In it, it provides a link to the list of churches whose pastors were “winners” of the 2012 Lilly Endowment grants. Last week, we received a call from one of our readers asking for current lists. We have placed the links for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 at the end of the article.
If you are in a church where your pastor is planning to go on a sabbatical, whether it is sponsored by Lilly or not, find out if he is going to be spending part of his sabbatical time at a monastery or a contemplative retreat center and reading contemplative-influenced books. If he is, then very likely he will come back with an entirely different spiritual outlook—one that looks more like Catholic mystics Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr than the biblical apostles Peter, John, and Paul.
Our 2013 Article: “What’s Up with Lilly Endowment – Funding Pastoral Sabbaticals with a Contemplative Agenda.”
In 2007, Lighthouse Trails became aware of the Lilly Endowment grants that were being given to congregations and their pastors (the pastors then allowed to go on sabbaticals that had contemplative/emerging overtones). Since then, Lilly Endowment has turned over the administration of the Clergy Renewal Program to Christian Theological Seminary in Indiana (incidentally one of the schools on the Lighthouse Trails contemplative college list) but is still giving the grants. And today, just as was the case back in 2007, the Clergy Renewal Program has contemplative/emerging leanings. That’s actually an understatement. A look around the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs website will show ample evidence of these propensities. Once again, another instance where Christian pastors have compromised the calling to walk in the truth of God’s Word and rather participate in a mystical paradigm shift.
One hundred and forty-seven congregations will receive up to $50,000 to enable their pastor to take a three- to four-month sabbatical to gain fresh perspective and renewed energy for the ministry.
And according to the Lilly Endowment document that lists the winners of the 2012 grants, pastors will:
. . . seek to regain spiritual vitality through the ancient Christian practice of walking as pilgrims in several countries—the path of Jesus in Israel, the path of the Exodus, some or all of the 500-mile Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) in Spain, the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul in Greece, Turkey and Italy—and making retreats in Benedictine monasteries, walking the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, and living in sacred space on the Isle of Iona and other Celtic spiritual destinations.
Winners represent various denominations including Southern Baptist, Independent, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopal, United Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene, Evangelical Free, and Mennonite.
http://www.pastoralexcellence.com/resources (Resource page that is provided by the Clergy Renewal Project – filled with many contemplative/emergent resources).
Below is the article we wrote in 2007. Still relevant today because Lilly continues to pour money into pastors lives to help them become more contemplative and more emergent. It is also still a relevant article because the Christian figures who participated in trying to thwart and diminish their critics (e.g. Lighthouse Trails) never recanted what they were doing and supporting.
“Emerging Church – A Move of God or a Well-Funded Enterprise?” – from 2007
The name keeps popping up – Lilly Endowment. Huge amounts of money being given in the form of grants to proponents of the emerging church. As Roger Oakland documents in his book, Faith Undone, Lilly gave $691,000 to the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project (Mark Yaconelli) in 2001. Lilly had funded the beginning of that project in 1997 as well. Lilly also funded Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, another emerging-type project with Diane Butler Bass . 1 New Age sympathizer Parker Palmer (friend and inspiration to emerging leader, Len Sweet) also enjoyed the benefits of Lilly Endowment grants.2
In an article titled “Social Change and Communitarian Systems,” it explains:
The Lilly Endowment “a private foundation…that supports community development, education and religion,” has also helped fund the [Peter] Drucker Foundation. But more recently, it has shown its support for Baptist leadership and pastoral training. Strangely enough, the two — Drucker’s communitarian vision for the “social sector” and seminary training in community-building — fit together….
This grant [$300,000] makes all the more sense in light of a new partnership between Golden Gate Seminary and Saddleback Church. The Baptist seminary will build a new branch on the Saddleback campus to train church leaders to use the digital data tracking technology needed to meet and monitor community needs around the world.3
In 1999, the now emerging/contemplative-promoting Bethel Seminary received $1.5 million from Lilly Endowment in a project created to identify “the next generation of Christian leaders.”4 Now, according to an article by emergent Tony Jones, in a more recent grant called Faithful Practices, Jones reaped benefits from Lilly.
And the money just keeps coming in. While many think that the emerging church must be a move of God because of its success and popularity, big funding could have a lot to do with it.
Current lists of winners for the Lilly Endowment pastoral grants:
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)