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University of the Ozarks Gets $997K Grant

2 min read

Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis gave a nearly $1 million grant to the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville to establish a program to support pastors of Presbyterian Churches in rural and minority communities in Arkansas.

The grant is part of the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry initiative that supports religious organizations to create mentoring programs for pastors. Lilly Endowment’s grant, which is slightly more than $997,000, is destined for the university’s Arkansas Presbytery Thriving in Ministry Consortium, which is being launched in the summer of 2021.

The program will assist rural pastors start new churches, serve communities of color and existing small churches. The funding will support a program director position who will serve as a “pastor of pastors” in the program; the university said it will start the search process to fill that position beginning in January.

The University of the Ozarks was established in 1834 in Cane Hill in affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. University President Richard Dunsworth said the grant came from a planning grant from Lilly Endowment this past summer that revealed that rural pastors were overwhelmed with their responsibilities.

“Pastors serving rural congregations and minority communities describe an almost unfathomable set of demands on their time, intellect and faith,” Dunsworth said. “The amazingly talented and committed women and men who occupy the pulpits of our rural and minority-serving churches are under-resourced, tired and in need of personal and professional support. With a Thriving in Ministry grant, together, we will create a supportive foundation and network to renew the faith of pastors, and ultimately strengthen the congregations that University of the Ozarks owes so much.”

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