Lilly Endowment Awards Hispanic Access Grant to Develop Faith Leader Capacity

Program supports young, mid-career Latina/o pastoral leaders serving high need rural and urban congregations 

WASHINGTON – Hispanic Access Foundation has received a grant of $998,415 to help establish the “Hispanic Leadership Network: Enfoque Ministerial (A Focus on Ministry for Thriving Congregations).” It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.  

“Religious communities, including those consisting of diverse ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds, are critical to a flourishing and humane society. Faith leaders are a trusted, dedicated organizer within their communities and have the power to reach thousands to hundreds of thousands of Latinos,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “By concentrating efforts on building their capacity to lead and strengthen their educational programs, there will be a direct impact on the congregations they serve. We will be able to help Latinos, including some of the hardest to reach, throughout this country by solidifying the foundation upon which faith leaders stand.” 

HAF’s program will develop a mentoring and leadership program to support young, mid-career and experienced Latino pastors serving high need rural and urban congregations across the U.S. The program will help enhance the ability of pastors to serve the unique needs of Hispanic/Latino congregations and support them in key transition moments in their career. By building a peer support network and undertaking an intensive, customized program of leadership training and reflection, the participants will be better prepared to lead initiatives and programs that enhance the vitality of their congregations and serve the unique needs of multigenerational Hispanic communities. 

“The focus of my work has been to support, guide and mentor Hispanic pastoral leaders who lead small independent Christian congregations – many of which face significant challenges due to their isolation or lack of support networks and resources,” said Dr. Francisco Colop, a minister and pastor with more than 47 years of experience who will support the program design and implementation. “Hispanic Access has an extraordinary team that has a track record of working respectfully with local communities, engaging pastors in planning and program implementation, providing resources and offering high quality materials, communications and follow through.” 

HAF is one of 78 organizations located in 29 states that is taking part in the initiative. The organizations serve diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox. Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Hispanic Access Foundation’s Hispanic Leadership Network, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

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