Trinity College’s Faculty of Divinity Establishes Innovative Leaders Initiative Through a Nearly $1 Million (USD) Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Posted: December 16, 2021

Trinity College’s Faculty of Divinity will be boosting its capacity to prepare leaders for the challenging of contemporary Canadian churches through a grant of nearly $1 million (USD) from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to the University of Toronto.

“We are grateful to receive this competitive award from Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative to support our new project – Innovative Leaders for Post-Christendom Church Ministry,” said The Rev. Dr. Christopher Brittain, Dean of Divinity and Margaret E. Fleck Chair in Anglican Studies, Trinity College. “Our project will adopt an experimental model of innovation to transform the Faculty of Divinity’s approach to ministry training, reshape our curriculum for church leadership, and to enhance our capacity to recruit students from new constituencies.”

The Faculty of Divinity’s “Innovative Leaders for Post-Christendom Church Ministry” project is being funded through the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, which is a three-phase initiative that Lilly Endowment launched in January 2021. The Initiative is designed to help theological schools in the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

In order to respond to prominent challenges, “Innovative Leaders for Post-Christendom Church Ministry” will focus on four pathways to innovation: (1) Innovative Ministry Projects: Introduce ongoing and mentored missional experimentation based on the model of a “Creative Destruction Lab;” (2) Spiritual Direction: Introduce spiritual direction focused on preparing for ongoing innovative ministry and supporting church leaders as they confront the challenges of innovative and flexible ministry; (3) Introduce “advisors in residence” from underrepresented ethnic communities to help re-shape the Faculty and advance the decolonization of its curriculum; and (4) Introduction to Christianity: Develop and implement an “Introduction to Christianity” to orient new students into theological training and prepare them for church leadership.

For 180 years, the Faculty of Divinity has led the way in providing Anglican theological education in Canada through an interdisciplinary lens (general and professional theological education and advanced graduate degrees); and since 2012, has offered a concentration of Orthodox Studies. The Faculty is also uniquely embedded within a liberal-arts undergraduate college at the University of Toronto and a founding member of the Toronto School of Theology.

“Our Faculty of Divinity is a small but vibrant ecumenical academic community that contributes immensely to student and college life. Through Dean Brittain’s innovative leadership, the Faculty of Divinity will continue the tradition of enriching our community and strengthening our institutional capacities – to broaden the impact of theological education, and to creatively enhance curriculum and training,” said Professor Mayo Moran, Provost & Vice-Chancellor, Trinity College.

“As we enter the second year of COVID-19 and begin to navigate the post-pandemic challenges, the role church leaders play in guiding the spiritual, social and cultural needs of communities – especially when amplified by systemic issues of racism, oppression and injustices – will be more critical than ever before,” Dean Brittain added. “Along with the pedagogy work, the ‘Innovative Leaders for Post-Christendom Church Ministry’ will strengthen our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, which are key areas of focus across the College.”

Trinity College is one of 84 institutions – among 10 in Canada – benefitting from a total of more than $82 million (USD) in Phase 2 grants of the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. This grant follows a $50 K (USD) grant under Phase 1 of this Initiative for Faculty of Divinity to conduct institutional assessment and strategic planning.

“Through the Pathways initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow,” Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion, said in a statement.


January 15, 2022 – Employment Opportunities:

December 20, 2021: The Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College is pleased to announce a new PhD scholarship for the 2022-2023 academic year – Pathways for Tomorrow Doctoral Scholarship. This award will support PhD research in Theology in the Faculty of Divinity. The scholarship covers domestic tuition and fees, as well as a stipend of $15,000 CAD, annually for four years. The online application will open in January 2022.