The Center for Congregations helps religious congregations in Indiana through no-cost consulting, low-cost educational opportunities, and a variety of grant programs. Founded in 1997, it was originally named the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. The Center’s sole funder was, and remains, the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Initially, the Center was a program of the Alban Institute, a national organization that supported congregations through consulting, publishing, and workshops. The Center’s founding director was the Rev. Dr. John Wimmer. Under Wimmer’s leadership, the Center began its own form of consulting and became a grantmaking organization.

The Center for Congregations conducts a number of educational programs about congregational finance, staffing, building programs, and a variety of other practical issues. Its staff has expertise in many of these areas; in addition, experts from faculty and clergy often serve as guests in seminars and symposia aimed at building organizational capacity.

In 2003, Rev. Timothy Shapiro became president of the Center for Congregations. In 2006, the Center opened satellite offices across Indiana, each of which had its own director and administrative support, including educational program support staff. Satellite offices are in Fort Wayne (northeast), Crown Point (northwest), Seymour (southeast), and Evansville (southwest). The original Indianapolis office of the Center continues to serve most of central Indiana.

In 2015, as the Alban Institute moved to Duke Divinity School, the Center for Congregations established a supporting organization relationship with Christian Theological Seminary (Indianapolis) and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

In its early years, the Center did not provide direct financial aid to congregations and there was considerable discussion, both in the Center and at Lilly Endowment, about the direct provision of resources for building maintenance or program development. Over time, the Center devised grant programs meant to build specific capacities in congregations such as improved infrastructure for information technology or enhanced digital communication strategies.

By 2020 the Center had provided grants, workshops, or consultations to almost 50 percent of the congregations in Indiana.

Revised July 2021

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