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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q – Will the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) initiative pay for a sabbatical?

A – The SPE initiative does not have the resources to underwrite a sabbatical. There are other agencies, such as Lilly’s Pastoral Renewal program, that do fund sabbaticals for pastors. However, it is possible that a segment of a person’s sabbatical could qualify for funding from SPE. The segment must fall within the funding parameters established by the initiative.

Q – Can a group of pastors apply for a grant?

A – Yes, groups of pastors can apply for a grant for group spiritual direction, the learning areas identified in the competency areas, as well as for retreats. For complete details, see the guidelines for SPE Group Grants.

Q – Do the grants include resources for spouses or lay leaders?

A – The initiative is designed to enhance the growth and work of credentialed Covenant pastors. It does not include resources for spouses or lay leaders.

Q – What is the application process for the Center for Spiritual Direction at North Park Theological Seminary?

A – Grant applications for all elements of this initiative, including North Park’s Center for Spiritual Direction, can be found here. You may also contact the Department of the Ordered Ministry or North Park Theological Seminary and request that an application packet be sent to you.

Q – Will SPE pay for the pursuit of additional education through a degree program?

A – The targets of SPE do not provide resources for degree or certificate programs. The exception is North Park Theological Seminary’s Center for Spiritual Direction.

Q – How does the grant application process work?

A – The grant deadlines for for self-selected interactions are February 15, April 1, June 1, August 1, October 1, December 1. All Covenant-created opportunities have a posted registration deadline for a specific event. Applications for these interactions must be received by the stated deadline. A response will be given to all applicants within a 21-day period after the pre-designated deadline. Someone applying to the Center for Spiritual Direction will need to apply through the regular admissions channel at North Park. However, if a pastor/missionary/chaplain is desiring to apply for SPE grant funds to offset the cost of tuition, that must be done through the SPE website. For additional information see the Eligibility Covenant.

Q – Can you apply for more than one grant?

A – Pastors, missionaries, and chaplains may receive up to two (2) grants through the SPE Initiative, with the provision that an individual’s second grant experience comes at least one calendar year after the first.

Q – How are grant funds received?

A – Grant recipients will be reimbursed up to the specified grant amount when the receipts and response/evaluation sheets are turned in. Only receipts that accompany the evaluation sheets will be reimbursed, and only one check will be sent for reimbursement. Additional receipts turned in at a later time will not be paid. An exception to this is made for grants given in the Character stream for ongoing spiritual direction. For information on this exception please contact the SPE office by emailing spe(at)