The Louisville Institute

The Louisville Institute
1044 Alta Vista Road Louisville, KY 40205 (502) 992-5432

Mission & History


As a center to support research and leadership education on American religion, the Louisville Institute seeks to nurture inquiry and conversation regarding the character, problems, contributions, and prospects of the historic institutions and commitments of American Christianity. In all of its work, the Louisville Institute is guided by its fundamental mission to enrich the religious life of American Christians and to encourage the revitalization of their institutions, by bringing together those who lead religious institutions with those who study them, so that the work of each might inform and strengthen the other.


In late 1990, Lilly Endowment Inc. (an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation) launched the Louisville Institute, based at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company, the Endowment supports the causes of religion, education, and community development. The Religion Division of Lilly Endowment works with people and institutions of promise to generate knowledge, communicate insights, nurture practices, and renew and sustain institutions that help to make accessible and effective the religious resources upon which a flourishing and humane society depends.

By sharing in that task, the Louisville Institute expresses its own conviction that strong religious communities grounded in enduring traditions of thought and practice are indispensable to a good society. As a program funded by Lilly Endowment, the Louisville Institute builds upon the Endowment's long-standing support of both leadership education and scholarly research on American religion, including American Catholicism, American Protestantism, the historic African-American churches, and the Hispanic religious experience.

The Louisville Institute has conducted its work through a program of grantmaking, convening, and, more recently, a fellowship program in theological education. Current grant programs include: Pastoral Study Project, First Book Grant Program for Minority Scholars, Project Grants for Researchers, Sabbatical Grants for Researchers and Collaborative Inquiry Teams. Current fellowship programs in theological education include: Doctoral Fellowships, Postdoctoral Fellowships, and Dissertation Fellowships. Our convening work has principally gathered pastors, academics, and the two groups together.

Discontinued Grants

Since beginning its work in late 1990, the grant programs of the Louisville Institute have consistently supported academic research and other projects undertaken in the interest of strengthening North American church life. The focus of that work, however, and the particular grant programs offered have shifted from time to time. Listed below are those grant programs that have been discontinued. Following the link to each of them will take you to a listing of previous grants made in each of those grant programs.

Christian Faith & Life

The Christian Faith and Life Grant Program From 1996-2009, the Christian Faith and Life Grant Program supported research projects by academics and pastors that attempted to bring the resources of the ethical, liturgical, and doctrinal wisdom of the Christian faith into closer relation to the daily lives of practicing Christians, describe more fully how the Christian faith is actually lived by contemporary Christians of various ages, circumstances, and traditions, and make more accessible to religious believers the themes of Christian faith in relation to the realities of their contemporary lives.

Christian Faith & Life Teaching Team

The Christian Faith and Life Teaching Team Grant Program From 1996-1998, the Christian Faith and Life Teaching Team Grant Program supported teaching teams that included both a pastor and a teaching theologian who developed and taught in both congregational and academic settings a course of study exploring a basic theme or themes of historic Christian faith in a way that made it more accessible in the everyday lives of contemporary church members.

General Grant

The General Grant Program From 1990-2009, the Louisville Institute's General Grant Program supported a limited number of individual and collaborative projects undertaken by pastors, academics, and religious institutions. Grants varied in size and covered a wide range of projects related to the priorities of the Louisville Institute. Some grants, for example, covered the costs of convening discussion groups of pastoral leaders and academics while others enabled an academic to pursue (sometimes with pastoral colleagues) a research project of particular interest to the church.

Pastoral Leadership

The Pastoral Leadership Grant Program From 2007-2009 the Pastoral Leadership Grant Program supported research and reflection by pastors and academics on the conditions of contemporary Christian ministry, the nature of contemporary pastoral leadership in light of those conditions, and the character of pastoral excellence.

Religious Institutions

The Religious Institutions Grant Program From 2001-2009 the Religious Institutions Grant Program supported research projects by academics and pastors studying how the religious core of an institution orients and shapes its mission and contemporary practice, the impact of the institutional field within which religious organizations live, the mutual interaction of religious institutions and American society, and religious institutional leadership.

Sabbatical Grants for Pastoral Leaders

The Sabbatical Grants for Pastoral Leaders Program From 1994-2011 the Sabbatical Grants for Pastoral Leaders Grant Program provided pastoral leaders the opportunity to step out and step back from the pace and pressures of ministry. During a season of personal renewal, study, and reflection pastoral leaders embraced the gifts of time and Sabbath for their lives and ministries. As clergy had the opportunity for learning, growth, and recreation they also learned the habits and practices that sustain them in and for meaningful ministry.

Summer Stipend

The Summer Stipend Program From 1991-2009 the Summer Stipend Grant Program offered grants to academics and pastors engaged in summer research projects pertaining to American Christianity, especially those related to the priorities of the Louisville Institute: Christian faith and life, pastoral leadership, and religious institutions.