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Whitworth awarded nearly $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to sustain Office of Church Engagement programs

January 2, 2018
Whitworth University’s Office of Church Engagement is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $499,675 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment, based in Indianapolis, is one of the nation’s largest private philanthropic foundations. Founded in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family, it supports the causes of religion, education and community development.

Funding from the “Sustaining the Vision, Expanding the Network” grant will allow the OCE to sustain its operations and expand two successful programs. The first, The Summer Ministry Fellows program, sends Whitworth undergraduates to churches and parachurch organizations for 10 weeks in the summer to serve the churches and explore their vocational callings. The program started with just 25 fellows who were placed throughout the region. Now, close to 100 churches seek Whitworth students for summertime placement. This program was established with a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and funding from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The second program, The Preaching and Teaching Academy, was created in an effort to support Presbyterian pastors and commissioned lay leaders. It was funded by a grant from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Lilly Endowment grant will allow the program to expand to other denominations throughout the region.

“We appreciate Lilly Endowment’s ongoing commitment to partnership with the Office of Church Engagement,” says Terry McGonigal, Whitworth’s director of church engagement. “This sustainability grant recognizes the progress we have made during our first four years, and provides the financial stability to continue this work for the next three years. We are thrilled about the number of churches and ministries that have become a part of our ministry network, and we look forward to collaboration with them as we fulfill our mission: “Partner with churches and ministries to equip disciples and engage the culture with the Good News of Jesus.”

The Office of Church Engagement serves as a valued resource for a network of 40 churches and parachurch organizations in the Pacific Northwest and along the West Coast. Formed originally with a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the OCE coordinates multiple activities including the Academy of Discipleship, The Preaching and Teaching the Bible Academy for pastors, the Whitworth Institute of Ministry and the Summer Ministry Fellows program.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Terry McGonigal, director of church engagement, (509) 777-4547 or

Trisha Coder, media relations manager, (509) 777-4703 or