Lilly Endowment Grant Awarded to Baylor to Study and Strengthen Students' Sense of Vocation

Dec. 9, 1999

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University has received a planning grant of $49,722 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to study ways to help students view their future professions as a calling or vocation, to attract more students to ministry, and to create programs that further these objectives. Baylor was one of 37 universities and the only institution of higher learning in Texas invited by the Endowment to apply for the grant.

The new grant program, Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation, seeks to create and expand ways for students to see their future professions as meaningful vocations, to encourage students to view the ministry as a possible vocation, and to help universities create programs to achieve these objectives. The planning grant will allow Baylor to assess its current programs and develop new programs that address these goals. Following the planning grant stage, the university then could be awarded between $500,000 to $2 million to implement its programs.

"This is an enormous opportunity for Baylor to be able to think about this issue in a concentrated period of time," said Dr. A.J. Conyers III, professor of theology at the George W. Truett Seminary and grant program director. "There is a lot of concern about the loss of vocation within the church, both in the ministry and with lay leaders."

Throughout the spring semester, Conyers and other faculty members will travel to other universities to see what kinds of programs already are in place. Consultants also will travel to Baylor to review existing programs and study proposed initiatives. Additionally, faculty members from all disciplines will study the theological issues involved in vocation and how this might be practically applied.

Possible initiatives that will be explored during the planning stage include creating summer conferences for high school juniors and seniors organized around career paths of medicine, law, journalism and education; sponsoring conferences on vocation for the community and alumni with prominent speakers leading conference sessions; founding a journal that looks at issues of vocation; developing a cooperative program between the department of religion and the George W. Truett Seminary to assist students in exploring a career in the ministry; and creating a new, interdisciplinary Christian Studies minor.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family -- J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli -- through gifts of stock in the pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. In keeping with the wishes of its three founders, the Endowment helps support the causes of religion, education and community development.

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