Pastoral Study Project

The Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Project Grant (PSP) awards grants of up to US$20,000 to support individual or collaborative study projects on Christian life, religious practices and institutions, and possibilities and ideas for the church, our communities, and the wider world. Grants are awarded to skilled and innovative clergy, lay leaders, and staff working in diverse Christian contexts in the United States and Canada.

2025 Application Portal Opens June 1, 2024.

Application due date: August 1, 2024 (11:59 p.m. EDT)

Project grant amount: up to US$20,000

Project timeframe: January 1, 2025 – June 30, 2026

Awards announced: November 2024

Pastoral Study Project Consultation: February 3-5, 2025

What are Pastoral Study Project grants?

Pastoral Study Project grants offer pastoral and ministry leaders time away from the daily demands of their work in order to dig deeply into significant questions of ministry, the church, and Christian faith in our communities and the wider world. We know that pastoral leaders have keen insight into the challenges and promises of faith, practice, and ministry, and often wish for the opportunity to engage more fully with the meaningful questions they face in their ministries. Our Pastoral Study Project grants give you that chance: financial support of up to US$20,000 that provides time and resources to think, research, ask, learn, study, and reflect about that big idea you’ve been pondering. Grantees share their research through books and other publications, blogs and websites, podcasts, digital media and film, exhibits, worship, music, public presentations, classes, and more. These projects are lifegiving for grantees and their communities, and strengthen the vitality of North American Christianity.

Previous projects have examined topics like aging and dementia in congregations, social justice and racism in hospital chaplaincy, theologies of online worship, spiritual practices for college students from diverse backgrounds, and trauma and resilience in Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ Christian communities. You can read more about previous grantees and their projects on our website.

What do I need to know to apply?

Who is eligible for a Pastoral Study Project grant?

Eligible candidates:

    • have received theological education, training, and/or mentoring for Christian leadership
    • are employed in diverse ministry contexts in the United States and Canada

Previous Pastoral Study Project grants have been awarded to a variety of Christian leaders, including:

    • clergy
    • chaplains
    • church and denominational staff
    • Men and Women Religious
    • members of monastic communities
    • non-profit and parachurch staff
    • artists and musicians
    • independent researchers and writers
    • pastoral counselors
    • ordained ministers not currently employed in religious settings
    • others regularly working in recognized positions of pastoral leadership

Additional eligibility information:

    • PSP grants are not educational scholarships and cannot be used for tuition, expenses, or projects related to degree programs such as an M.Div. or a D.Min.
    • Ph.D. and Th.D students are not eligible for a Pastoral Study Project grant, but may apply for one of our fellowship programs.
    • Faculty and administrators at institutions of higher education typically apply for the new Grants for Researchers rather than the Pastoral Study Project Grant. For questions regarding your project and its eligibility, please email

See additional stipulations below. For questions about grant eligibility, please email

How can I use Pastoral Study Project grant funds?

PSP grants can be used for:

    • Time away from your regular job, such as salary replacement for unpaid time off, or for a temporary replacement or supply minister while you are on leave
    • Resources related to your learning, such as books, training, or consultations
    • Tools to facilitate your study, like library access, a recording device, or software or transcription programs
    • Travel directly related to your project and its investigation, such as to access archives, museums, or libraries, or for experiences connected to your project (e.g., historical settings, visiting sites, specific learning events, worship, or trainings)
    • Childcare or other family support you need to undertake your project
    • Compensation for research participants and partners, interviewees, focus groups, research assistants, and others who work on the project with you

PSP funds cannot be used for:

    • Your regular salary to continue your current job or an existing ministry
    • New programs or staff positions at your church or organization
    • Payment to “experts” to do research for you
    • Expenses in pursuit of a degree (M.Div., D.Min, Ph.D., etc.)
    • Tools for your everyday work, such as an office chair, desktop computer, or cell phone

Pastoral Study Project Grants are intended for study and research. For financial support of sabbaticals of rest and renewal, see Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs. For projects focused on personal reflection or discernment, see the Reflective Leadership Grant from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School.

For questions about grant proposals, please email

What is the Pastoral Study Project Consultation?

The Pastoral Study Project Consultation is an annual event held in Louisville, Kentucky, for all PSP grantees. Grantees gather at the beginning of their grant period to learn from others, discuss and hone their projects, and imagine and discover new resources and possibilities. Grantees this cycle will attend the PSP Consultation February 3–5, 2025. All travel, housing, and other expenses to participate in the gathering are covered by the Louisville Institute. Attending this event is a requirement of receiving a PSP grant.

How do I apply?

  • Download the 2025 PSP Application Guide. The application guide contains the details you need. Read the guide carefully and refer to it as you prepare your application materials.
  • Review the eligibility requirements in the guide.
  • Create an account. Click on the “Apply” button to create an account and get started in the application portal. (Application portal opens June 1, 2024)
  • Prepare your materials. Complete applications require the following (see the Application Guide for full details):
      1. General application information
      2. Project summary 
      3. Project narrative
      4. Bibliography
      5. Line Item Budget & Budget Narrative
      6. Curriculum Vitae or resume
      7. Overview of your ministry context 
      8. Two Letters of Recommendation
      9. Affirmation of support
  • All application elements are submitted online through our application portal.
  • Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT August 1, 2024, and letters of recommendation are due from the recommenders August 8, 2024.

What is the selection process for Pastoral STudy Project grants?

The Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Pastoral Study Project grants. The selection committee meets about 8–10 weeks after the application due date. We usually receive around 100 applications each year, and plan to award 25 grants in 2025. All applicants are notified by email as soon as possible after the selection process. Awards will be announced publicly in November 2024.

How can I ask for feedback On My Project?

We can provide some initial feedback on your project idea to see if it’s a good fit for our grants. Being specific and focused about what you hope to study will yield more helpful feedback from us. Before you submit a feedback request, please run your idea by trusted colleagues to get their thoughts. Additionally, if your project involves other participants (such as church or community members, or others who will be central to your project), please seek their input before asking for LI feedback.

To request feedback, use this link to respond to the following questions:

    • What is the primary question you want to explore? (50 words or fewer)
    • Why is this project important to you, your community, and/or the church in North America? (100 words or fewer)
    • How are you planning to carry out your study? Give a brief overview of where and/or with whom you hope to work, the research methods you might use (e.g., archival research, interviews, surveys, observation, visits, etc.), and why you’ve chosen these strategies (350 words or fewer).

Note: Because we receive many requests for feedback, responses can take several weeks, but we will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to July 1, 2024.

I’m new to this — where can I learn more about how to conduct research?

Need help thinking through how to do research? Check out these resources on interviews, surveys, observation, and other ways to collect data!

Studying — is an online collaborative resource for understanding congregations in North America. Find out more about:

The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture has created an online resource manual for studying religious communities and practices, including:

Additional Eligibility Information for all Grants & Fellowships

    • You are welcome to apply again for any of our grants or fellowships – in fact, it’s very common! However, you may only apply for one grant or fellowship between June 1, 2024, and May 31, 2025.
    • Any previous fellowships or grants from the Louisville Institute must be completed and final report submitted before applying for another LI fellowship or grant.
    • Members of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary staff, faculty, Board of Trustees, or student body, or their immediate family members (parents, spouses, or children), are ineligible for Louisville Institute grants or fellowships. Members of the Louisville Institute Advisory Board and their immediate family members are also ineligible to apply.
    • Louisville Institute grantees may not simultaneously hold two individual grants from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations that together total more than US$55,000. Please contact us if you have any questions about this stipulation:

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!