ABHMS receives grant to sustain ISOE, names program’s interim director

VALLEY FORGE, PA (2/12/19)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has received a $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to sustain In Support of Excellence (ISOE), a financial-empowerment program for American Baptist pastors and lay leaders. In addition, ABHMS has named the Rev. Dr. Trinette V. McCray as interim director of ISOE.

Awarded through Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, this grant follows a $1 million Lilly Endowment grant that helped ABHMS to establish ISOE in 2016.

ISOE seeks to alleviate pastoral leaders’ financial challenges and related stress by equipping, supporting and encouraging them through education, professional coaching, collegial support groups and exploration of ministry models. The program will continue to follow a cohort model and curriculum that addresses both personal and congregational debt, including stewardship, debt reduction and retirement planning. Leaders will attain increased awareness of resources, allowing them to prevent or manage financial crises.

The sustainability grant will allow ABHMS to refine the program and incorporate it into the organization’s long-term ministry offerings, while expanding collaboration with ministry partners.

“ABHMS is excited to join with numerous other faith-based partners in denominations and seminaries in giving increased attention to the economic challenges confronting churches and faith leaders,” says ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray. “These challenges are with us to stay, so our responses must be comprehensive and long term.”

Haggray indicated that ABHMS, in the near future, will launch a search for a permanent ISOE director. “For now, we are fortunate to have the leadership of Dr. McCray,” he emphasized.

McCray brings 15 years of experience in grant administration and development of grant-funded programs, including as a primary writer of ABHMS’ ISOE proposals to Lilly Endowment. A long-time American Baptist leader, she is president of the Black Caucus and past president of both American Baptist Churches USA and American Baptist Historical Society.

“The larger aim of the ISOE program is to support excellence in ministry, beginning with the economic well-being of pastors and clergy,” says McCray. “We do this by assisting them in addressing their financial realities and by equipping them to lead their congregants in doing so also. This can result in strong stewardship growth that will undergird and support growing ministries of excellence that transform the communities 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 Eli and J.K. Jr.—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Co. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does so largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

 American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.