United Ministries in Higher Education (a campus ministry serving Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri) has received a grant to explore more deeply its role in helping college students reflect on faith and calling in their lives. Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the $100,000 grant as part of its national initiative to strengthen the work of campus ministries serving public university campuses. United Ministries in Higher Education is one of 27 ministries awarded funds through the Campus Ministry Theological Exploration of Vocation Initiative.
Established in 2012, the initiative furthers a longstanding commitment of the Endowment to help young adults make connections between their academic and career choices and their lives of faith. United Ministries in Higher Education will spend the next five years establishing programs that will connect students with a pre-ministry mentoring program, the “Faith & Life Matters” speakers series, career assessment tools, and small-group discussions reflecting on careers in ministry.
The Rev. Howard Cavner, UMHE campus minister and member of National Avenue Christian Church, says the grant is a game changer for the ministry. “New partnerships continue to emerge that will allow us to assist students in discerning a call to ministry,” Cavner said. “Participating in our Lilly programs will provide students with mentoring that will enhance their education at MSU and future faith driven experiences.”
Samantha Nichols, a peer minister with UMHE and the first student to benefit from this initiative, describes the ministry as life-changing. “UMHE has helped me discern my call, given me valuable ministry experiences, introduced me to close friends, and supported me in so many educational, professional, and personal ways,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what our new, young members will accomplish and discover.”
For more than 15 years, the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment has been learning about the place of faith on college and university campuses and how the connection can influence the career trajectory of students. Initial efforts on faith-based campuses have been extended to large public universities.
“This initiative is enabling campus ministries to play an even more prominent role in identifying and nurturing a new generation of talented religious leaders for church and society,” said Dr. Christopher Coble, the Endowment’s vice president of religion.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.: Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., with gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company. The Endowment is primarily committed to the causes of community development, education and religion.