As lay pastoral ministers are sought to replace the diminishing number of priests serving on parish staffs, the need for quality lay ministry preparation programs has become urgent.
In 1987, with the assistance of a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry was founded in order to assess and enhance ministry preparation programs. In 1990, an additional grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled AGPIM to expand its activities. The 1990 grant funded three distinct undertakings. First, it enabled AGPIM to continue gathering important data from its member institutions. Additionally, it provided funding for a conference of those involved in lay ministry preparation. Finally, the grant supported research on incoming ministerial students and their acquisition of skills. Two reports, Barbara J.
Fleischer's "Ministers of the Future: A Study of Graduate Ministry Students in Catholic Colleges and Universities" and "Education for Ministry: A Survey of Graduate Ministry Programs, 1992-1993," by Charles Topper, Geri Telepak, Thomas P. Walters, and Rita Tyson Walters, resulted from the research supported by this grant. The results of this research are also presented in an "Executive Summary." Additionally, the booklet "Ministry Educators in Conversation: What Kind of Future?: Proceedings of the Invitational Conference" contains the papers delivered at the 1993 conference in San Antonio.
Finally, the grant also produced two video education packages. The first, which was created for ministry educators, addresses the professional socialization of ministers. The second, designed for parishes experiencing transitions in leadership, explains the concept of the lay parish life coordinator.