BUSTH Selects Participating Congregations for Trauma-Responsive Congregations Project


Kimberly Macdonald
Communications Director

Boston, MA – November 3, 2021 – Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH) is pleased to announce the participating congregations for “Trauma-Responsive Congregations: Equipping Thriving Urban Congregations to Respond to Collective Trauma.” The four-year project is entering its second year. It is designed to help urban congregations respond to trauma from theologically-informed and spiritually-integrative perspectives, as their congregants are continually shaped by and are reacting to the compounding of domestic and global traumatic events.

The project is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Thriving Congregations Initiative, an effort that is supporting 115 organizations nationwide as they help congregations strengthen their ministries so they can better help people deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world.

In November 2020, Lilly Endowment made a $990,196 grant to BUSTH to fund the Trauma-Responsive Congregations project. Each congregation selected for this project is represented by a task force of three leaders who will participate in a process of collaborative learning and will design a project that will support and bolster their congregation’s efforts to respond to trauma.

The participating congregations are as follows:


  • Central Assembly of God Church
  • Connexion
  • MANNA Community
  • Luke Christian AME Zion Church

San Diego

  • Living Water Church of the Nazarene
  • Normal Heights United Church
  • Andrew’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and Christ Lutheran Church (partnership)

“What most excites me is the ability to support leaders doing this work,” says BUSTH Associate Professor of Theology Shelly Rambo. “I am aware of the toll that this takes on them, which has only been multiplied by ministering during the pandemic.”

“Connexion and the Haus of Three are incredibly excited to join in this work,” said Jordan Harris, pastor of Connexion Church in Somerville, MA. “While trauma knows no gender identity or sexual orientation, we know that the LGBTQIA community continues to suffer and lacks resources to help us to process our perpetual trauma. We are excited to work to create safe and healing spaces for all.”

There are many organizations turning to trauma-informed programming, and this project focuses on integrating the best of trauma-informed models with the dynamic resources of faith, rooted in traditions of justice and care. The hope for this program is to build upon the strengths that these congregations already bring to caring for communities, and the strong ties to chaplaincy and spiritual care in the program will help achieve that goal. Many leaders engaged in the program are bi-vocational – working both as congregational leaders and as chaplains. The program’s partnership with Chaplaincy Innovation Lab provides a national network of spiritual care professionals that can support congregational efforts as the program progresses.


Since 1839, Boston University School of Theology has been preparing leaders to do good. A seminary of the United Methodist Church, Boston University School of Theology is a robustly ecumenical institution that welcomes students from diverse faith traditions who are pursuing a wide range of vocations – parish ministry, conflict transformation, chaplaincy, campus ministry, administration, non-profit management, social work, teaching, justice advocacy, peacemaking, interfaith dialogue, and more. Our world-renowned faculty and strong heritage help students nurture their academic goals and realize any ministry imaginable. For more information, please visit www.bu.edu/sth.  

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a national private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J. K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Co. 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 grantmaking in religion 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.