Who is eligible?

  • Scholars in any field who teach or serve as program leaders at an accredited seminary, divinity school, college or university that is a non-profit organization in USA and Canada.
  • We welcome applications from a wide variety of academic disciplines—not only traditional fields in theological education (Bible, theology, history, practical theology, ethics, preaching, pastoral care, missions, etc.), but also from across the spectrum of disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences (history, economics, sociology, psychology, political science, music, drama, dance, art and architecture, and the sciences, such as urban geography, cross-cultural studies, disability studies, and so on).
  • Seasoned, mid-career and newly emerging scholars are encouraged to apply.
  • Grants are not designed to fund dissertation research but could be well-suited to harvesting the insights of a dissertation for the life of the church.
  • Preference will be given to grantees who hold full-time teaching and/or research positions, but applications are welcome from part-time and adjunct professors, center or institute program directors, pastors serving as instructors, etc.
  • Grants will be awarded to the institution at which the scholars teach, to be used according to the grant proposal and budget approved by CICW.
  • Grants can be awarded for teacher-scholars involved in a worshiping community that has received a Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grant, but those persons cannot simultaneously serve as the project director for the worshiping community grant project.
  • Project Directors applying for Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants should disclose any other grants they have from another organization funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc.  

What projects do we support?

Grants will be evaluated by the Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants Advisory Board. 

Projects are designed to provide time and resources for teacher-scholars to:

  • explore the implications of their prior teaching and academic research for strengthening and nourishing the public worship life of congregations, including the unique challenges and opportunities of particular cultural contexts, with additional reflection on any potential barriers to or negative implications of their potential contribution. Projects could also develop new ideas and directions of study related to the applicant’s discipline.
  • engage worshiping communities more directly through publications, forums or seminars, artistic or musical engagement, or residencies.
  • reflect on how the project, upon completion, might strengthen the scholar’s future teaching and research or suggest new lines of research and teaching.

What is the grant amount?

  • Grants will range from $8,000 to $25,000.

What criteria will be used to assess grants?

The best projects will

Topic or Theme

  • address a well-defined specific need or opportunity in a particular worshiping community or in the church more broadly.
  • address topics of pastoral or theological significance for an ecumenical audience.
    (Note: We welcome grants about specific challenges or topics in a given congregation or denomination, but then encourage teacher-scholars to harvest insights from the work for a larger, ecumenical audience.)
  • draw on some prior work by the teacher-scholar in a relevant academic field or discipline.


  • feature collaborative learning with pastors and/or church leaders or members, or other church-oriented scholars, that is best suited to the methods and topic of the grant, such as a reading or peer-learning group on a particular book or topic, or a partnership between a teacher-scholar and pastor or ministry leader.
  • feature direct engagement with a particular congregation, worshiping community, or church-related agency
  • be realistically completed within the one-year time-frame of the grant

What are the expectations of grantees?

  • Grantees are expected to complete both mid-year and end-of-year grant program and budget reports.
  • Grantees are expected to submit some manifestation of their research (draft article, draft chapter, media presentation, curriculum, performance recording, etc.).
  • Grantees are expected to participate in a webinar with other teacher-scholars to share their research, and to create a visual element (poster, PowerPoint, etc.) to accompany the webinar presentation. 

Please note: Assistance and consultation in developing applications will be available from CICW staff by contacting worshipgrants@calvin.edu.