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Whitworth starts program to assist churches

Whitworth University has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to fund a new comprehensive church engagement initiative called The Ekklesia Project to connect Whitworth to needs of congregations and Christian organizations throughout the western United States.

A new Office for Church Engagement will administer the project, and Terry McGonigal, dean of spiritual life, will be the first director. A search for a new dean of spiritual life begins in January.

The Ekklesia Project’s goal is to develop Whitworth’s ability to be a catalyst, center and resource for conversation, vision-casting, planning and programming, Terry said, to help churches and other organizations discern how to do ministry in the 21st-century and the region’s cultural setting.

The office will also seek to develop and deepen partnerships with Presbyterian churches, with expressions of the global church, and other local and regional ministries.

It will help churches assess community needs and develop strategies to meet those needs.

The grant will help the university cover costs for the Office for Church Engagement as it develops revenue to be a self-funding effort.

Planning for the office will begin in the spring, and Terry expects it will be launched by summer.

“Whitworth was founded by the church and for the church,” said Beck Taylor, president, pointing out that the university’s connections to its founding denomination (the Presbyterian Church) and other local churches have been an important part of its identity since its founding in 1890.

For information, call 777-4238 or email

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