Lilly Grant – Thriving in Ministry

The application deadline has passed. 


In 2018, the Saint Paul Area Synod was awarded a grant through the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative. Our program is called “From the Center Outward” and through it we are thrilled to be using $375,000 over five years to support our roster in a variety of ways at no cost to leaders. We encourage you to read the executive summary of the grant here. Overall, the grant will fund three cohorts for rostered ministers in the synod: one for leaders of color, one for leaders with the interest in and capacity for executive leadership, and one for leaders in their 4th to 10th year of public ministry (or, their “second act”).


Together, these cohorts aim to expand the mentoring capacity of our synod, and we hope that this support will reverberate beyond the participants to their peers, their ministry sites and the synod more broadly. All of the cohorts will be formed around a set of convictions about what allows a pastor or deacon to thrive in ministry:


  • Deep reflection on one’s life and world
  • Practice of lifelong, careful study of scripture
  • Ability to work gracefully with lay leaders
  • Disciplined curiosity about context, community and self
  • Relationships with mentors to encourage and reinforce those habits


Beyond merely thriving in their work, framing vocation from the center outward helps leaders reconnect with their human capacity for joy, curiosity, and the long tradition of spiritually & communally rooted leadership of the church.


Grant Activity

2019 is a year of planning and preparation for all of the grant activity. The first cohorts will launch in January of 2020! Links to applications and other pertinent materials will be posted here as they become available.


Timeline of grant activity:

  • June-July 2019: Application period for Second Act, Round One and Kubernesis Seminar
  • Fall 2019: Applicants will be notified of results
  • January 2020: Launch of Second Act Cohort (Round One) and Leaders of Color Cohort
  • September 2020: Launch of the Kubernesis Seminar
  • June-July 2021: Application period for Second Act (Round Two)
  • Fall 2021: Applicants for Second Act (Round Two) notified
  • December 2021: Second Act (Round One) ends
  • January 2022: Second Act (Round Two) launches
  • September 2022: Kubernesis Seminar ends
  • June 2023: Leaders of Color cohort ends
  • Fall/Winter 2023: Second Act (Round Two) ends



  • You are eligible to apply for the Second Act Cohort if you are a rostered minister serving in the Saint Paul Area Synod in year 4-10 of your public ministry.
  • You are eligible to apply for the Kubernesis Seminar if you are a rostered minister serving in the Saint Paul Area Synod and have gifts for or an interest in senior/executive leadership.

Application Process

Applications were accepted through August 15, 2019 for Round One of the Second Act Cohort and the Kubernesis Seminar. The application process is now closed.





Second Act Cohort:

The Rev. Rusty Brace - Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Oakdale
The Rev. Jen Collins - Hosanna Lutheran Church, Forest Lake
The Rev. Dana Nelson - Galilee Lutheran Church, Roseville
The Rev. Brandon Newton - Easter Lutheran Church, Eagan
The Rev. Jill, Rode - St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, St. Paul
The Rev. Amanda Simons - Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, St. Paul
The Rev. Rebecca Sullivan - Lakeview Lutheran Church, Maplewood
The Rev. Joel Vander Wal - Incarnation Lutheran Church, Shoreview
The Rev. Peter Weston Miller - Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater


Kubernesis Seminar:

The Rev. Elizabeth Damico-Carper - Memorial, Afton
The Rev. Ali Ferin - St. Michael's, Roseville
The Rev. Kirsten Fryer - Bethlehem, St. Paul
The Rev. Jen Hackbarth - Christ the King, White Bear Lake
The Rev. Jeanne Hartfield - Incarnation, Shoreview
The Rev. John Hierlinger - Gustavus Adolphus, St. Paul
The Rev. Kyle Jackson – St. Andrew's, Mahtomedi
The Rev. Keith Long - St. Luke's, Cottage Grove
The Rev. Tim Maybee - Our Savior's, Circle Pines
The Rev. Joy McDonald Coltvet - Christ on Capitol Hill, St. Paul



Contact Anna Marsh, Thriving in Ministry Program Director