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Hendrix Receives Lilly Grant for Clergy Civic Engagement Institute

CONWAY, Ark. (December 5, 2014) – Hendrix College has been awarded a five-year $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. The award will support a new Institute for Clergy and Civic Engagement (ICCE) at Hendrix.

The new program will develop leadership skills and ministry capacity for early career Hendrix alumni and Arkansas pastors to lead their churches and communities in addressing major issues within their communities and meet the needs of the mission field outside the walls of the church.

“I am thrilled that the Lilly Endowment has put its trust in Hendrix College to help clergy in their early careers find the support they need to be the most effective pastors God has called them to be to make disciples of Christ,” said the Rev. J. Wayne Clark, chaplain at Hendrix College. He will serve as the project’s executive director. 

Two cohorts of ten clergy participants each will receive training and support during a two-year period. Participants will meet in six retreats, each focused on a specific social issue affecting their communities. Following each retreat, participants will be challenged to discuss the topic with business and civic leaders in their own communities and explore ways to address the issues locally. Also, pastors will participate in a summer mission trip to serve a marginalized population with organizations that exemplify innovative cooperative efforts among churches, civic officials and business leaders. At the end of the program, participants will develop a ministry plan that focuses on one issue for the church and the community to address together.

In 2002, Hendrix received a Lilly Endowment grant to develop the Exploration of Theological Vocation (now known as the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics and Calling), which allowed Hendrix to put more resources into helping students discern a call into ordained ministry. Since then, more than 50 students have attended seminary. 

“I am excited that Hendrix will be able to continue its work with those alumni and help them continue in their ministry,” Clark said.

Hendrix President Bill Tsutsui said Lilly Endowment’s generosity “has enabled Hendrix to deepen both its role as a liberal arts college and the ways it supports the United Methodist Church and communities in Arkansas.”

“For more than a decade, hundreds of Hendrix students have been enriched by the programs that began through Lilly Endowment’s support,” Tsutsui said. “When you add the people and the communities touched by the work of Hendrix students on mission trips and our alumni who now serve as clergy, the legacy of Lilly Endowment is absolutely incredible. This new grant is exciting, and we are so grateful for the Endowment’s continued investment.”

The program’s first clergy cohort will start in fall 2015. United Methodist clergy the Rev. Jeannie Burton and the Rev. Mary Jane Cole will serve as consulting senior pastor and program director, respectively. 

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. This year, Hendrix was named the country’s #1 “Up and Coming” liberal arts college and #8 in the nation for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the 2015 Fiske Guide to Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, and the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit