Among the largest single grants received in its history, Eden Theological Seminary receives grant for $4,999,995 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to implement a Network Model of Theological Education. The programming and relationship building resourced by the grant will take place over the next five years. The three initiatives of the Network Model include collaborations among theological schools, undergraduate colleges and universities and United Church of Christ conferences. Read Press Release here:


“In the Network Model of Theological Education we are navigating a historic shift in the culture of higher education and of the church, and we are encouraged to do so in such good company and toward such good purpose.”
– President Deborah Krause

Eden Theological Seminary has received a grant of $4,999,995 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help implement a Network Model of Theological Education.

The program is being funded through the third and final phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. The Initiative is designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

Eden Theological Seminary’s Network Model of Theological Education includes three initiatives engaging institutional, denominational, and congregational partners across North America to build capacity, increase demand, and expand access for theological education in service of congregations and ministries of the progressive Christian movement.

  1. Theological Schools – Sharing faculty resources and courses to equip and empower leaders for the progressive Christian movement.
  2. Undergraduate Colleges and Universities – Awakening vocations for social transformation and congregational ministry.
  3. United Church of Christ Conferences – Supporting assessment and educational resources to form capacities for “Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers”

Drawing on over a half century of demonstrated impact in its Contextual Education program, Eden is adapting its curriculum centered on immersive, experiential, mentored learning in diverse contexts of ministry to distance learning. We are collaborating with the church and its institutions of higher learning to create greater access for leaders to be formed and empowered for transformational ministries in the congregations and communities they serve. Far from seeing the theological school as a center to which the church and its leaders come for instruction, the Network Model positions the Seminary working collaboratively with other schools, organizations, and denominations, to equip and empower leaders the church needs for today.

Eden’s President, Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause, gives thanks. “Lilly Endowment’s challenge to collaborate with other institutions and organizations empowered Eden Seminary to resist habits of competition in our operation as a school to foster connections to join our resources with those of other schools and denominational bodies to strengthen and support the church and its leaders. In the Network Model of Theological Education we are navigating a historic shift in the culture of higher education and of the church, and we are encouraged to do so in such good company and toward such good purpose.”

Schools and conferences providing letters stating their support of the collaborative initiatives include: United Theological Seminary, Chicago Theological Seminary, Christian Theological Seminary, Memphis Theological Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, Canada, St. Andrew’s College, Canada, College of Emmanuel & St. Chad, Saskatoon, Canada, Lakeland University, Tougaloo College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Hawaiʿi Conference UCC, Rocky Mountain Conference UCC, Illinois South Conference UCC, Missouri Mid-South Conference UCC, Penn Central Conference UCC.

Eden Theological Seminary is one of 16 theological schools that has received grants to fund large-scale, highly collaborative programs through the Pathways initiative. Lilly Endowment believes these programs have the potential to become models for other schools as they seek to strengthen the way they educate pastors and other congregational leaders.

“Theological schools play an essential role in ensuring that Christian congregations have a steady stream of well-prepared leaders to guide their ministries,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Many theological schools believe that their paths to the future depend on their abilities to form strategic partnerships with other schools and church agencies. These grants will help seminaries develop innovative and collaborative approaches to theological education that we believe will strengthen their efforts to prepare and support excellent leaders for Christian communities into the future.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.

Online and in-person: Register here

October 1, 2022 @9 am – 3 pm- Workshops
October 2, 2022 @7:00 pm- Performance, Festival of Psalms (Great for All Ages)

About the Instructors:

Valerie Tutson, a life-long member of the UCC has been telling stories around the world since 1991. Her repertoire includes tales from around the world with an emphasis on African and African American traditions and history. She is also well-known for her re-telling of age old Bible stories and is sought after as both a performer and workshop leader.

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan desires adventurous and imaginative music for the church. As a full-time composer and musician, he serves across denominations teaching about music and spiritual formation. Known for hymn forms, simple chant and pop-rock arrangements, he has several albums of original worship music. Richard is currently immersed in a long-term study of the Psalms. He is the owner of, and his songs have been published by the ELCA, UMC, UCC and PCUSA

Course Description:
There is no doubt the world has been in a season of deep pain, grief, loss and trauma. We have been shaken to the core by the global COVID pandemic and re-awakened to the calls for racial justice and the Movement for Black Lives. Everyday we are hearing the news of wars in the world.
It can seem overwhelming. We may feel at a loss.
Especially as the world is trying to “return to normal.”
How do we return to “what was”, without telling the story of where we’ve been?

We can’t.

For as long as people have lived, they have used story and song to make meaning of their experiences: who they are, whose they are, what has happened to them and why that matters.
How does this moment NOW help us reflect on THEN, so we can prepare for WHAT’s NEXT?

In this day long exploration, these dynamic workshop leaders invite you to chart the Story Arc found in Biblical texts and your own lives.

Join Richard Bruxvoort Colligan in an examination of the Psalms and how they tell stories that chart the psalmists’ journey from complaint, to hope, to gratitude.

Valerie will lead us through a process of re/membering our own stories, and finding new connections with Biblical tales.

This is a chance for our church leaders to reconnect with themselves, their stories and Biblical text in fresh new ways.

Not only will you be re-freshed, you will also come away with tools/ideas/techniques you can use with your community to help us all Turn Toward Joy

Opening Convocation for Eden Seminary’s 2022-2023 academic year.
The community gathers for this celebration to mark the beginning of the new academic year.

Students – Faculty- Staff – Board of Trustees – Contextual Education Supervisors – Congregations – Alumni – Families – this celebration is for you!

Join in to support your students and your Seminary. Attend on campus in the Wehrli Chapel of the Press Building (with COVID vaccination and masking). Attend via Zoom (register here for your link).  Join via Facebook live at

Worship Leaders:
Rev. Rebecca Turner, Christ Church UCC, Maplewood
Rev. Monty Jackson, Christ Church UCC, Maplewood

About our preacher(s):
Rev. Rebecca Turner graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and was ordained at Kirkwood Baptist Church in 1986, making waves as the first Southern Baptist woman ordained in the state of Missouri.

Realizing she was not a good fit for the denomination of her childhood, she began serving UCC churches and currently maintains standing in the UCC and DOC. She has kept on making waves.

From 2001-2015, Turner served as the Executive Director of Faith Aloud, an interfaith denomination focused on sexual and reproductive justice. In that role, she was interviewed by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Laura Schlessinger, featured in four documentaries, was the keynote speaker to 500 Latin American abortion providers in Bogota, Colombia, and received the “2010 Person of the Year” Award from the Abortion Care Network. The religious resources she developed through Faith Aloud have been used extensively on at least four continents.

Motivated by the 2014 murder of Michael Brown and the election of 2016, Turner became Pastor at Christ Church UCC in Maplewood with a determination to address white supremacy in the local church. In 2017, Christ Church developed a ministry to their immigrant neighbors and attracted national attention for successfully sheltering Alex Garcia from deportation for 3 and 1/2 years.

At General Synod in 2021, Turner received the “Movement Makers Award” from the United Church of Christ.

As a part of her commitment to reducing white supremacy in the congregation, Turner led Christ Church to add a second Pastor, the Rev. Monty Jackson. Turner and Jackson have since become a songwriting duo, creating new music for weekly worship which speaks from a lens of liberation and justice. Next month, the church will begin its Social Justice Sunday School, with a new curriculum written by Turner

Monty Jackson, a graduate of Eden Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, is a singer-songwriter, record producer, and arranger, who has produced, written, arranged, and performed with Grammy award, Dove award, and Stellar award-winning artists. Monty himself is a three-time award winner for excellence in music and media (EIM).

Monty is an internationally acclaimed artist who has performed throughout America, Canada, the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, the South Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean. He says, “Out of all the places I have performed, no experience compares to singing an American spiritual on the Sea of Galilee.” Monty has also performed at the Sydney Opera House in Australia and is a former member of the Heritage Singers and was on their weekly national television show on the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) for four years in the ’80s.

Pastor Monty and his wife, Patti, have two children, Christian and Cetera.

Eden Seminary is offering UCC History and Polity as an asynchronous 8-week intensive course for the Fall 2022 semester. All the materials from a full-semester course will be covered, and all coursework will be completed in an asynchronous online forum. This class is appropriate for Members-in-Discernment on all multiple paths to authorized ministry. It is also open to those seeing Dual Standing or Privilege of Call in the UCC, if your Committee on Ministry requires you to take a full-semester course.

Class meets Aug. 15 – Oct. 7, 2022

Contact the Eden Admissions Office to register:  [email protected]
or Phone: 314-918-2642

Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause, President of Eden Seminary, and Rev. Dr. David Mellott, President of Christian Theological Seminary at the UCC Indiana-Kentucky Conference Annual Gathering

Lorin Cope (Friend of Eden) and Rev. Tom Ressler (Eden alum) at the UCC Indiana-Kentucky Conference Annual Gathering

Scott Holl (Theological Librarian/Archivist | Bookstore Manager), Lorin Cope (Friend of Eden), and Dana McNamara (Interim Director of Admissions) at St. Louis PrideFest

Deanne Swaringen (Communication Associate) at the Webster Groves Lions Club July 4th Carnival and BBQ

Rev. Karen Pepmeier (Eden alum), Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause (President of Eden) and Rev. Bill Perman, and Dr. Christopher (Academic Dean | Professor of Worship and Preaching | Dean of the Chapel) and Dr. Carla Grundy at the Webster Groves Lions Club July 4th Carnival and BBQ

Scott Holl (Theological Librarian/Archivist | Bookstore Manager) at the Webster Arts Fair

A Message from Rev. Dr. Sonja B. Williams, Dean of the Seminary  

Eden Theological Seminary is blessed by the administrative leadership of its faculty. For the last two years, Rev. Dr. Damayanthi Niles has served as Interim Academic Dean. As she returns to full-time teaching as the Allen and Dottie Miller Professor of Mission and Peace, Rev. Dr. Christopher Grundy has agreed to serve as Academic Dean as he continues in his teaching and worship leadership roles as Professor of Preaching and Worship and Dean of the Chapel.

After graduating from Carleton College in Minnesota and Union Theological Seminary in New York, Dr. Grundy served churches in Iowa and Kansas for eight years before seeking an M.T.S. and PhD. in liturgical studies from Garrett Seminary. He is the author of Recovering Communion in a Violent World: Resilience, Resistance, and Risk (see and co-author of The Work of the People: What We Do in Worship and Why. Dr Grundy has also been writing and performing music for local, regional, and national church gatherings for more than two decades. You can find his music on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon,, and many other platforms. He is married to Dr. Carla Tellor Grundy, and they have three sons: Ross, Liam, and Gabriel.

“It’s an honor to work with Eden’s outstanding leadership team,” he says, “and to serve a school that has such an important and distinctive role, both in the St. Louis region and the world. I look forward to collaborating with Eden’s faculty and network of partners as we move into the new era of theological education that is emerging.”

Eden is glad to welcome Dana McNamara, as the Interim Director of Admissions. 

Please share this with others you know who have an interest in theological education.

Contact Dana at [email protected]

As a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ Dana grew up attending worship and church camps in Colorado where she heard her call to ministry. Dana completed her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and Christian Leadership from Colorado Christian University in 2012 and earned her Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary in 2016.

Dana comes to this position with eight years of Seminary admissions experience. As an Eden alum she can testify firsthand to the inclusiveness and growing accessibility of Eden’s programs. As the Interim Director, she hopes to engage students who are feeling God’s call on their life to expand their theological training, leadership, and knowledge of the Progressive Christian Movement.

Since she’s been in Missouri, Dana met and married her husband, Ryan. Dana and Ryan have a gaggle of dogs and cats in their household and enjoy taking the dogs, Mars and iO hiking as often as possible.