Seeger Chapel steeple against an orange sunset

Emmanuel receives Pathways for Tomorrow grant from Lilly Endowment

MILLIGAN, Tenn. (April 29, 2021) — Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan University has received a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the university’s efforts to address the specific challenges that limit prospective students and underrepresented populations from attending and graduating from the seminary.

The grant comes from Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, which strives to help theological schools strengthen and sustain their capacities to prepare and support pastoral leaders for Christian churches. Pathways for Tomorrow is a three-phase initiative, and the Endowment has allocated $87.5 million towards this enterprise.

Emmanuel’s funding will be applied to institutional assessment and strategic planning for continued enrollment growth and additional support services for retention and success.

“As the religious landscape in our country continues to change rapidly, we are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s vision and their commitment to theological education in America,” said Dr. Gary Selby, professor of ministerial formation. “Through their generosity, our team hopes to learn more about the dreams and aspirations of young people who feel a call to ministry and are considering seminary. We also want to explore the obstacles that might stand in the way of that calling, so that we can make a graduate degree from Emmanuel accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.”

Selby and Adam Bean, assistant professor of biblical studies, will serve as faculty directors on a team led by Erin McDade, director of advancement for CMF International in Indianapolis, Indiana. The research team also includes Hannah Simeon-Cox, pastor of connections at Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and several current Master of Divinity students.

The team will use a multi-method survey and focus groups to better understand the specific challenges prospective and current students may face at Emmanuel, allowing the seminary to better serve churches and organizations. The research also will incorporate the knowledge and perspectives of current ministry leaders.

“The faculty know that virtually every student who enrolls here was influenced by someone else, a minister or a mentor, who encouraged them to consider seminary and likely pointed them to Emmanuel,” continued Selby. “We want to learn more about how those leaders view the future of the church and of ministry, as well as how they perceive Emmanuel. We hope that this data will help us discern our mission more clearly and discover innovative ways of carrying out that mission as effectively as possible.”

The research team’s survey will be open through June, and ministers interested in participating in the survey and/or in a focus group can email

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic 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, the Endowment 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. The principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians, 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.

Posted by on April 29, 2021.