Dec 182023

Chicago Theological Seminary Centers Clergy Wellness in New Grant

Lilly Endowment Inc. will sponsor program focused on helping clergy to rest and improve their physical health while embracing a culture of wellness.

CHICAGO–Leadership Education aims to create lasting change in U.S. congregations by supporting Christian leaders and the institutions they serve. We design educational services, develop intellectual resources, and facilitate networks of institutions that cultivate a coherent vision of Christian institutional leadership and form Christian leaders. Leadership Education is a non-degree-granting initiative of Duke Divinity School funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and based in Durham, N.C.

Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) has been selected to receive a Leadership Education at Duke Divinity 2023 Cohort Formation Participating Grant. Since 2020, Rev. Brian E. Smith has led efforts to care for clergy through various programs at CTS. Smith is now the program manager for CTS’s Thriving in Ministry grant and has been selected to be a part of a national planning cohort that will develop programming for clergy wellness. Following the refrain of CTS President Brad Braxton, Smith seeks to foster and support the building of a Care-Full community.

This fall, CTS hosted 40 clergy leaders for a two-day wellness retreat. This project, entitled “Permission to Sabbath,” extends CTS’s pioneering approach to clergy wellness, which is documented in a ten-minute video that can be found here. Permission to Sabbath seeks to address the question, “Who cares for the caretakers?” Clergy often find themselves ministering to their congregations, serving in local and civic capacities, working second jobs, and more – all without giving themselves time to care for themselves. Permission to Sabbath allows clergy the space to breathe, to care for themselves, and to learn ways to deal with stress that will allow for healthier clergy members.

“It excites me that the Lily Foundation has chosen to fund this important work,” said Rev. Brian E. Smith, Director of Community Relations and Strategic Partnerships at CTS. “We’ve long known that faith leaders face incredible pressures both externally and internally – pressures that can severely hinder their ability and desire to do their jobs. Permission to Sabbath is an attempt to show clergy and their congregations how they can begin to address their wellbeing. We hope nothing less than to begin a national movement of clergy wellness workshops.”

From Alaina Kleinbeck, Associate Executive Director for Coordination at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity: “The Cohort Formation Grant Program at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity is an important opportunity for organizations in the Thriving in Ministry Initiative to engage one another in focused conversations that strengthen the capacities and networks that support pastorals leaders. These affinity-based cohorts have brought together unique and diverse conversation partners that we hope will catalyze new imagination and collaborations for the good of Christ’s church.”


Press Contact:
Brendan Diamond
Director of Communications, Chicago Theological Seminary
e: [email protected] | p: (312) 619-1733