Lilly Endowment has been at the forefront of addressing excellence in pastoral ministry in a multi-faceted set of programs that span more than a decade. The fundamental assumption behind the Lilly programs is that there is a basic and symbiotic relationship between congregations and their leaders: vital congregations need and produce vital leaders; vital leaders inspire and nurture vital congregations. This article deals with only a sample of these grants focused on nurturing excellence in the Protestant ministry. Four sets of grants to the Christian Reformed Church, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church are considered in detail. Each in their own way has developed programs to call forth the next generation of pastors and upbuild those pastors who serve currently through the development of a culture or an “ecology” in these communions that creates and sustains excellence in ministry. An article on the same effort to nurture ministry in the Roman Catholic community will follow in subsequent months.