Lilly Endowment Grant


Janet Mers

     The Christian Church in Ohio is pleased to announce the calling of Rev. Dr. Janet Mers to the position of Lilly Grant Director for the region.  By action of the Executive Committee of the Regional Church Council, Rev. Dr. Mers will begin her duties on July 1, 2017 through the duration of the project (three years) even as she concludes her long-term pastorate with Perry Christian Church on July 31st.  As part of the ministry staff of the regional church, Mers will be concluding her service as a member of the Regional Church Council and as the region’s Finance Committee Chair effective June 30th.

     In a statement she said, “I am humbled and excited to serve as the Project Director for the Excellence in Ministry (EIM) Lilly Grant.”  Mers has already met with her colleague Project Directors and the representative from the Lilly Foundation who reviewed and discussed ways to improve the effectiveness of our Ohio EIM Grant efforts.

     Many denominations experience pastors leaving the ministry within 5 years of service because they are over burdened with debt, or congregations not able to pay a full time pastor a living wage.  To address these vital issues, Rev. Dr. Mers will be developing two committees that will award EIM Grants to provide Ohio: 1) debt relief for pastors overwhelmed with debt, and 2) grants that empower congregations to retain their pastor.  On this Mers says, “My prayer is, with the foreknowledge gained from our Lilly colleagues, the Ohio Lilly Grant will successfully assist pastors to thrive, and empower congregations.  My hope is that the Lilly Grant will strengthen Ohio as we care for our pastors and congregations.  My greatest desire is to work with all of you, as together we care for our pastors and congregations by serving God like Jesus.”

     There is much preparation to be done before Buckeye Disciples can apply for a grant and Mers will be working to have everything in place so we can start receiving applications by the end of October 2017.  Please join us in welcoming Janet to the staff of the Christian Church in Ohio and be in prayer for her during this time of excitement and transition.


The original press release with more information about the Lilly Grant can be found below.



Christian Church in Ohio Awarded $1 Million Grant through
Lilly Endowment's Economic Challenges Initiative


*For Immediate Release*

Contact: Rev. Stephen Bentley
(614) 433-0343 ext. 2


COLUMBUS, OH, January 5, 2017 - The Christian Church in Ohio has received a grant of $1 million as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.'s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they address the financial and economic struggles that can impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively.

The grants are part of the Endowment's commitment to supporting the pastoral leadership development of clergy serving in congregations across the United States.

The Christian Church in Ohio’s Endowment grant will create the Economically Empowered for Excellence in Ministry initiative. Our goal for the three-year grant period is to impact at least 25% of the 222 active Disciples clergy in Ohio, empowering them to pursue excellence in ministry while reducing their financial burdens. The Endowment grant will establish a Ministerial Excellence Fund consisting of two (2) grant programs, Pastoral Relief Grants and Compensation Support Grants. A limited number of financial relief grants will also be made available for select program participants. Program details continue to be finalized and will be made available at www.ccinoh.org.


In partnership with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Center for Faith and Giving, the Endowment grant will also be used to create a Financial Empowerment Academy. This financial literacy program will include educational experiences designed to educate both clergy and congregations on personal and congregational financial management.

“Through addressing financial literacy issues and alleviating financial pressures of clergy, this program aims to benefit congregations by having more effective leadership and less turnover”, said Dr. William Edwards, Regional Pastor and President. "We hope to benefit the church by having pastoral leaders who are more engaged in the financial affairs of the church.”

The Christian Church in Ohio is one of 15 organizations taking part in the round of the initiative, which represents a variety of Christian traditions, including Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God (Anderson), Episcopal, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, historic African American congregations, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Wesleyan churches, and non-denominational congregations. They include denominational pension and benefits boards; local and regional denomination judicatories, such as synods and dioceses; and denominational foundations.

Each program is customized to the needs of pastoral leaders in each religious tradition, but the programs have much in common as they:

  • provide incentives for clergy to take part in personal finance education
  • offer low-or no-cost financial planning and counseling
  • help pastors create emergency funds
  • develop strategies that help young pastors pay down or eliminate educational debt
  • create new scholarships so that seminarians borrow less while in school

"Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church. Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise," said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, Vice President for Religion at the Endowment. "These organizations understand the importance of the financial wellbeing of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve."

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 their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment's religion grant making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

Christian Church in Ohio cares for and supports congregations and pastors of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ohio and is responsible for training local and lay clergy leaders, sponsoring camps and conferences, establishing new congregations, offering program assistance and ministry initiatives to help revitalize existing congregations.  






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