Pastoral Study Project

The Pastoral Study Project (PSP) awards pastoral leaders up to $15,000 to pursue a pressing question related to Christian life, faith, and ministry. Grants are available for study projects involving full or partial leave from job responsibilities.

Application Deadline: September 1, 2021

Grant Timeframe: January 1, 2022 thru June 30, 2023
Grant Amount: up to $15,000

2022 PSP Application Guide

Apply for a Pastoral Study Project now.

The Louisville Institute offers pastoral leaders the gift of time and the resources to engage in focused inquiry related to the Christian life of faith, North American religious practices and institutions, or major challenges confronting contemporary society and the wider world. The Pastoral Study Project program (PSP) 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, honoring grassroots research conducted by skilled working 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 society in North America.


2022-2023 PSP Projects

During this grant cycle (projects to be conducted between January 1, 2022-June 30, 2023), Louisville Institute welcomes a variety of projects in religious studies, theological studies, and ministerial studies. In addition, we are interested in proposals that investigate one — or the combination of — the following cluster of topics that affect faith communities in North America:

    • new efforts in racial justice, equity, and inclusion;
    • the multifaceted and intersectional (e.g., social, economic, traumatic, liturgical) impact of Covid-19, including intentional formation initiatives during and after the pandemic.


The Pastoral Study Project program is open to Christian clergy, church staff members, chaplains, denominational staff, nuns/sisters/brothers, members of monastic communities, 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 open 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.

Previous LI grantees are eligible and encouraged to apply; however, all program and financial reports for any previous grants must be submitted prior to July 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 Jessica Bowman.

PSP Feasibility Feedback

Louisville Institute is glad to provide brief initial feedback to help you determine if your PSP project idea fits our funding criteria. Because of the large number of PSP applicants, consultation does not guarantee funding. However, staff feedback can help you discern whether to develop your ideas into a full grant proposal.

Before contacting us, please do the following:

    • Describe your ministry context (2-3 sentences).
    • State your project’s core question — framed as a question — and say why it is important to the church in North America (one paragraph).
    • Identify how you plan to investigate this question, indicating potential research strategies (2-3 paragraphs).
    • Share your outline with several trusted colleagues and incorporate their feedback.

After completing these steps, email your brief project outline (500 words maximum) to the Associate Director with the subject “PSP feedback.” We will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to August 1.


PSP Application Requirements

All documents must be submitted by 11:59pm on September 1 deadline. Go to APPLY to complete application information and upload each requirement in *.pdf format (preferred). Recommenders must submit their letters by September 8th. If you encounter problems, contact Jessica Bowman.

Are you applying with a colleague to the PSP Grant? If yes, the Project Director will submit the application requirements and add additional Team Members during the application process. All other Team Members will receive an email to create a user account and join the specific PSP project proposal.  Additional team members must upload resume, context of ministry and submit recommender contact information by September 1st.

A complete proposal must include:

    • Applicant Information (time frame, amount, etc.)
    • Project Quotation: If you only had one sentence to say about your project, what would you say?
    • Core Question: In 1-3 sentences, state your project’s core question – framed as a question – and say why it is important to the church in North America.
    • Project Summary: Summarize your project in approximately 200 words.
    • Proposal Narrative of approximately 5 pages (12-point and double-spaced). Describe your proposal in detail using the following outline:
        • Core Question: What is the primary question you will investigate?
        • Rationale: Why is the proposed topic important to the Christian faith? 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 ways in which you will conduct the inquiry: study methods, field work if appropriate, travel, and other resources and activities necessary to complete the project.
        • Sharing: Who is your intended audience for this research? How do you plan to share your study findings with them? What oral forms of sharing fit the project (e.g., sermons, education venues, speeches, conference papers)? What written forms of sharing fit the project (e.g., essay, article, book, possible web or visual publication venues)?
        • Impact: What changes do you hope this project will effect in your place of ministry? What might be its consequences for the larger church?
        • Timeframe: 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 2022 Pastoral Study Project grant is an 18-month period between January 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023. Applicants whose projects extend beyond that time period should apply for a 2023 grant.
    • Selective bibliography of the main sources to be read (2-3 pages, double-spaced)
    • Proposal budget: Prepare a line item budget and explanatory budget narrative to show 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 unrelated to project activities, expenses related to pursuit of a degree, or capital expenditures beyond what may be necessary to conduct research.  See pages 13-19 of the 2022 PSP Application Guide.
    • Your current Curriculum Vitae or résumé (no more than 4 pages).
    • Statement of Ministry Context: Tell us about your congregation or organization and describe your leadership role (two pages, double-spaced).
    • Two Letters of Recommendation (Colleague and Assessing Project Feasibility) & Institutional Support Declaration: When uploading your application materials, provide names, email addresses and phone for recommenders and person providing institutional support. LI will immediately email those recommenders with a link to submit their documents online. Applicants should contact their recommenders in advance to explain procedures and guidelines (below). Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by September 8th.
        • Letter of Recommendation from Ministry Colleague: Your Colleague letter should come from someone – either within or outside your institution – who can provide a candid assessment of your reliability and capacity to carry out the proposed project. Your recommender should describe how your previous work demonstrates skills needed to conduct this study and coordinate this Pastoral Study Project, indicating ways this project might strengthen the church in North America.
        • Letter Assessing Project Feasibility: Your Feasibility letter should come from someone who can provide a 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. Your recommender will tell us why this proposed project matters, how you are well-suited to undertake this venture, and this study has relevance for the church in North America.
        • Institutional Support Declaration: We ask the appropriate representative from your institution to complete a brief online form verifying institutional support for your PSP grant.  This person will verify that you will be given time off to conduct this project should a grant be awarded. This is a brief online form and does not require a letter.
          Note to applicants NOT requiring Institutional Support:
          If you do not require institutional support for time off to pursue your project, please enter your own contact information, complete the form yourself and include a brief explanation with your proposal.

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, 2021 and funds will not be available until after February 1, 2022. A single check will be made payable directly to the applicant or to an institution designated by the applicant.


Pastoral Study Project grantees selected for a 2022 PSP grant are required to attend a Pastoral Study Consultation hosted by the Louisville Institute January 31-February 2, 2022 (Location TBA). 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.