January 2021
Lilly Endowment initiative to offer grant funding to ATS schools
Lilly Endowment Inc. announced that it will make available $87.5 million in grant funding to ATS-accredited schools this year. The endowment recently launched its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, which aims to enhance ATS schools’ effectiveness and long-term sustainability by addressing key challenges and taking advantage of opportunities in order to “strengthen and sustain their capacities to prepare and support pastoral leaders for Christian churches—primarily ordained pastoral leaders and secondarily congregational lay ministers.” Read more.
A season of learning: curiosity in crisis
A poster on my wall says “Blessed are the curious, for they will have adventures.” A companion these days might be the quote sometimes credited to Winston Churchill, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” How might we lean into our curiosity and foster institutional learning during these times of crisis? Read more.
Revised questionnaire shows new data related to online learning, work, ministry plans
This fall, more than 5,500 students representing over 130 ATS schools completed the newly revised ATS Entering Student Questionnaire. The questionnaire captures the experience of the first class of students to enter theological schools during the pandemic, and provides new data related to the work and ministry plans of students both during and after completing their theological degrees. Read more.
Pandemic enhances recruiting for Duke Divinity
The global pandemic is causing significant disruption to most aspects of admissions work, and it has directly affected Duke University Divinity School’s recruiting efforts. Read more.
ATS seeks survey responses from CEOs
As announced above, Lilly Endowment Inc. has launched a three-phase initiative to assist ATS schools as they adapt and innovate to changing realities. ATS is currently conducting a survey of school CEOs to map the organizational and financial models that schools have recently tried. The goal is to learn how effective the strategies have been on the school’s mission and financial picture, as well as to provide schools with initial findings as they craft their proposals. The survey covers strategies in six categories:

• Organizational (e.g., affiliate with another entity)
• Financial (e.g., expand to new markets)
• Technology (e.g., hire outside technology consultants)
• Educational (e.g., global partnership)
• Governance (e.g., change board composition)
• Faculty/staffing (e.g., modify tenure)

Each school’s engagement is unique, and the study needs a wide range of perspectives. The Association encourages all school CEOs to participate—ensure that your school’s activity is represented! We plan to share the results of this survey (anonymously) with the membership in upcoming articles.
Journey Films' newest release on Rabbi Heschel now available
Journey Films is excited to announce the release of SPIRITUAL AUDACITY: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story. The final film in the company's biographical series is now available on DVD through amazon. Other films in the series have included biographies on Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The company is now developing companion educational materials to facilitate and encourage the use of this film in theological education as it did with the other films. Journey Films was founded in 1983 by award-winning filmmaker Martin Doblmeier as a television and film production company specializing in religion, faith and spirituality. It has produced more than 30 documentary films that have aired on PBS, ABC, NBC, the BBC and on broadcast outlets around the world. Visit journeyfilms.com for more information.
Wabash Center announces early career workshops
The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning is currently accepting applications for its Workshop for Early Career Theological School Faculty and for its Workshop for Early Career Religion Faculty Teaching Undergraduates. The application deadline for both is February 10, 2021.
Atla launches student essay contest
The editorial board of Theological Librarianship, an online, open access journal of Atla, invites submissions of original essays from graduate and undergraduate students. The winning essay will be published in the Fall 2021 issue of Theological Librarianship. Atla is a membership association of librarians and information professionals, and a producer of research tools, committed to advancing the study of religion and theology. Please share with your students! More information can be found here.
Youth Theology Network invites ATS schools to opening session of annual gathering
Are you passionate about helping high school students understand their calls to ministry, or would you like to point them to programs that can help them wrestle with this important decision before they reach their college and graduate years? Join the Youth Theology Network (YTN) to discover a community of like-minded peers who are working toward common goals. A leader in the area of vocational discernment, YTN is inviting ATS member schools to the opening session of its annual gathering. This free online session—from 1 to 4 p.m., Thursday, February 3—will be packed with worship, breakouts, reflection, and a keynote from Dr. Angela Gorrell. This experience will highlight why this work is crucial for the church today and will help to find joy in our current circumstances. Find out more.
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The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) is a membership organization of graduate theological schools. ATS Programs and Services offers educational events and resources to assist member schools with best practices, development of peer networks, production of research, and exploration of data. The Commission on Accrediting of ATS accredits the schools and approves the degree programs.