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Seminary Receives ‘Compelling Preaching’ Grant

December 7, 2022

Calvin Theological Seminary’s Center for Excellence in Preaching (CEP) has received a grant of almost $960,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of their Compelling Preaching Initiative.

CEP’s grant program will focus primarily on peer learning groups in which pastors will be encouraged to discuss pertinent issues in preaching so as to develop new ideas, tactics, and practices that they can implement to meet today’s communication challenges in the church. Other grant activities will include focused seminars, conferences, and colloquia to bring pastors together for focused times of conversation and reflection.

The five-year grant program will address the changed preaching landscape that has resulted from the global pandemic as well as a number of other issues that have affected and reshaped the life of congregations everywhere. A key question to answer is “How can we help preachers navigate this changed environment?”

“We have been listening to the voices of so many pastors,” CEP director Scott Hoezee said, “and they all testify to the reality of a bevy of new preaching challenges.”

Among these challenges is hybrid worship as more and more pastors preach to a split audience of in-person worshipers and those who tune in only online. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also revealed significant partisan divides in many congregations.

“It seems as though the acoustics in the church have changed,” Hoezee said. “How people hear sermons and what they may read into the words of preachers now are all very different from even just five to 10 years ago.”

“With gratitude to Lilly Endowment Inc.,” Hoezee said, “we are praying for the Lord to bless this program in helping preachers do their vital work of gospel proclamation even in challenging times.”

The specific program that will be administered by CEP is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. Calvin Theological Seminary is one of 32

organizations receiving funding in an invitational round of grants for the initiative, which is designed to help Christian pastors strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways.

The Compelling Preaching Initiative is part of the Lilly Endowment’s longstanding interest in supporting projects that help to nurture the religious lives of individuals and families and foster the growth and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.

About Lilly Endowment

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr., and his sons Eli and J.K., Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the endowment, it is an entity separate from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff, and location.

In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Lilly Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities.

In addition, the Lilly Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role that religion plays in the United States and across the globe.