Bethany Seminary has named Courtney Hess as project director for the grant of $249,954 received as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. Hess began his duties on April 1, 2014.
The Endowment created this initiative to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors. In keeping with the requirements of the grant, Hess will lead efforts to (1) identify financial concerns of Bethany students and alumni/ae and (2) respond with programming and communication to help all members of the Bethany community address these concerns.
Hess has spent most of his professional life working with nonprofits as an organizational development consultant, both in managerial capacities and with individuals. From 1997-2009 he was the owner of Chess Strategies, primarily serving the fields of child and youth welfare and behavioral healthcare services. For the past four years, he worked as a grant writer and administrator at Beumer Consulting, assisting civic and governmental entities. He enjoys “the challenges of working with others to help improve the health and vitality of organizations and the people affiliated with them.” A large component has been financial management, helping clients better understand and reach a higher comfort level with finances and budgetary issues.
Education in financial literacy and stewardship will be central to Hess’s work at Bethany and will include faculty and staff as well as students. In learning about the nature of debt and financial management in the lives of young adults, faculty and staff will be better equipped to incorporate issues of stewardship into the curriculum and to mentor students. Students themselves will be given information and resources on topics such as simple living, finding outside employment, securing outside funding, and bivocational ministry to help minimize financial pressures. Ultimately it is intended that Hess’s work will lead to collaboration and conversation that benefit Seminary alumni/ae and the Church of the Brethren denomination as well.
Hess also brings prior experience with the Lilly Endowment, including the writing of a Lilly grant for the Society of Friends (Quaker) Indiana Yearly Meeting and then service on the advisory committee. Hess graduated from Earlham College and has studied arts administration at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a certified grant administrator with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.