The Louisville Institute

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

Pastoral Study Project Program


GRANT TIMELINE: January 1, 2016 thru June 30, 2017

Click here to download the 2015 Pastoral Study Project Application Guide.

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Are you ready to apply? Begin Online Application Here.

The Louisville Institute offers pastoral leaders the gift of time and the resources to investigate issues related to Christian life, faith, and ministry. Through its Pastoral Study Project program (PSP), the Institute enables pastoral leaders to bracket daily work routines in order to pursue a pressing and significant question for the life of faith.

Grants of up to $15,000 support independent or collaborative study projects – projects that privilege pastoral perspectives and rhythms and honor grassroots research conducted by skilled clergy. PSP grantees may use a variety of platforms to share what they learn with a wider audience, extending their leadership in ways that can benefit the broader church and culture in North America.

View Previously Awarded Grants


The Pastoral Study Project program is open to Christian clergy, church staff members, chaplains, denominational staff, and others regularly employed in recognized positions of pastoral leadership, ordained and lay. It is also open to ordained ministers who are not currently employed by a religious organization. The PSP grant is restricted to pastoral leaders in the United States and Canada.

The Pastoral Study Project does not provide scholarship assistance for Doctor of Ministry or other degree programs. A pastor currently enrolled in a degree program may apply for a PSP grant, but the proposed project must be clearly distinct from degree requirements. PSP grants may be awarded for proposals to extend further a study that began as an earlier, completed degree project.

Seminary administrators and faculty members are not eligible for the PSP grant program, nor are members of the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary Board, staff, or student body -- including immediate family members (parents, spouse, or children). Pastors enrolled in Ph.D. or Th.D. programs are ineligible for the PSP grant but may be eligible for a theological education fellowship.

Pastoral leaders who have previously received Louisville Institute grants are eligible and encouraged to apply; however, all program and financial reports for any previous grants must be submitted prior to September 1st. Applicants may only apply to one Louisville Institute grant program within the same grant year (June 1-May 31).

Questions about eligibility may be sent to

PSP Feasibility Feedback

The Louisville Institute is glad to provide brief initial consultation to help you determine if your project ideas fit our funding criteria. Feasibility Feedback is optional and not required to submit an application. Because of the large number of PSP applicants, consultation does not automatically guarantee funding. However, staff feedback can help you discern whether to develop your ideas into a full grant proposal.

Before contacting us, please follow these steps:

• In a single paragraph, state your project’s core question and explain why it is important to the church in North America

• In 2-3 paragraphs identify how you plan to engage this question as pastoral study

• Share your outline with several trusted colleagues and incorporate their feedback

After completing these steps, you may email this brief project outline (500 words maximum) to Don Richter with the subject heading “PSP feedback.” We will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to August 15.

Application Procedure

Beginning with the Applicant Information link below, please upload your application materials in *.pdf format (preferred). Assemble all required documents and recommender email addresses and upload your application materials in one session. All digital documents must be submitted by the annual September 1 deadline. Recommenders must submit their letters by September 8th. If you encounter problems with online submission contact Keri Liechty at

Are you applying with a colleague to the Pastoral Study Project Grant? If yes, click here for additional guidelines: PSP Co-applicant Information Guide.

Applications should include:

  • Applicant Information (Application details; 1-3 sentences stating your project's core question and why it is important to the church in North America; and 200-word summary)
  • Narrative statement of approximately 5-7 pages (12-point and double-spaced). Describe your proposal in detail using the following outline:
    • Concern/Question: What is the primary concern or question being investigated?
    • Rationale: Why is the proposed topic important to the church? What are the consequences if this issue is not investigated and responded to? Why are you the right person to undertake this project?
    • Plan: How do you intend to study and investigate the concern? Include a description of the way in which you will conduct the inquiry: bibliography of the main sources to be read, field work if appropriate, travel and other resources necessary to complete the project.
    • Dissemination: Who is your audience for this research? How do you plan to share your research with them? What oral forms of dissemination fit the project (e.g., sermons, education venues, speeches, conference papers)? What written forms of dissemination fit the project (e.g., essay, article, book, and possible web publication venues)?
    • Impact: What changes do you hope that this project will effect in your place of ministry? What might be its consequences for the larger church?
    • Timeline: What is the schedule and timeline for the project? The study period may vary according to the needs of each applicant, and may include extended or intermittent blocks of time, or designated days each week or month. Grant leave must be over and above the grantee’s regular days off, vacation time, and study leave. The project window for recipients of a 2015 Pastoral Study Project grant is an 18-month period between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. Applicants whose projects extend beyond that time period should apply in 2016.
  • Selective bibliography of the main sources to be read (2-3 pages double-spaced)
  • Detailed budget and budget narrative – see PSP Guide for Budget Preparation
    A line item budget is required, together with an explanatory budget narrative showing the connections between particular expenses and the project’s objectives. Grant funds may be used in various ways: e.g., to purchase books, for research material and equipment, room and board, salary replacement, convening collaborators, supply ministry, or project-related travel. The PSP grant does not fund basic program support for organizations, regular salary support for religious workers, expenses related to pursuit of a degree, or capital expenditures beyond what may be necessary to conduct research.
  • Copy of your current Curriculum Vitae or résumé (no more than 4 pages).
  • Statement of Ministry Context - tell us about your congregation or organization and your role in it. This should be no more than two pages double-spaced.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (Ministry Colleague and Assessing Project Feasibility) and Institutional Support Declaration: When uploading your application materials, please provide email addresses for your recommenders and for an appropriate representative verifying institutional support. After submitting your application, the Louisville Institute will immediately email those persons with instructions for submitting their documents online. You will also receive an email confirming that recommenders have been notified. We will notify you via email as each person successfully submits a document. We advise applicants to contact their recommenders well in advance to explain procedures and guidelines (below) so that completed letters can be promptly uploaded when requested by the Institute. Letters of Recommendation need to be submitted by September 8th.
    • Letter of Recommendation from Ministry Colleague — The recommender will be instructed: After reviewing the applicant's plans, craft your letter (on letterhead, if applicable) as a colleague in ministry. Provide your candid assessment of the applicant's reliability and capacity to carry out the proposed project. Describe how the applicant's previous work demonstrates skills needed to conduct this study. In what ways might this project strengthen the church in North America?
    • Letter Assessing Project Feasibility — The recommender will be instructed: After reviewing the applicant's plans, craft a letter (on letterhead, if applicable) providing your candid assessment of the need for this project, the feasibility of this project, and the distinctiveness of this project in light of what others are doing or have already done. Tell us how the applicant is well-suited to undertake this study and why the proposed project has relevance for the church in North America.
    • Institutional Support Declaration — Via email, a link to this online form will be sent to the appropriate representative of your church or organization to verify that you will be given time off to utilize a grant if awarded. If you are not currently employed, the support declaration should be signed by the regional denominational official to whom you are vocationally responsible. The representative will be instructed: We ask you, as the designated official in the applicant's ministry context, to review the applicant's plans and to verify support of the applicant's supervisory committee (pastoral relations, pastor/parish, personnel, judicatory, etc.) for this PSP application.

Review and Selection Process

Every year the Louisville Institute Board appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Pastoral Study Project grants. Committee membership and deliberations remain confidential.

Applicants whose projects are not funded will be notified by mail as soon as possible following the adjudication process. Due to the large number of applications the Institute receives, LI Board and staff members do not provide additional feedback on declined proposals.

Duration of Award and Stipend

The Pastoral Study Project supports research periods that range up to eighteen months. The grant amount requested cannot exceed $15,000. Awards will be announced on or before December 1, 2015 and funds will not be available until mid-January 2016. A single check will be made payable directly to the applicant or to an institution designated by the applicant.


Pastoral Study Project grantees selected in 2015 are required to attend a Pastoral Study Consultation hosted by the Louisville Institute at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary February 1-3, 2016. The Institute will pay for travel and lodging expenses to attend this gathering.

Louisville Institute grantees may not simultaneously hold two grants from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations that total more than $45,000. Louisville Institute grants cannot be used for basic institutional support.