The grant, from Lilly Endowment Inc., will help the seminary to ‘meet preachers where they are’
by Columbia Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service
DECATUR, Georgia — Columbia Theological Seminary has received a $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Holy Encounters: The Columbia Preachers Studio for Renewal.
The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to foster and support preaching that inspires, encourages and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully.
The five-year grant program seeks to foster more compelling preaching among its constituents as it honors Columbia’s rich history in pastoral formation and embraces the many strengths and passion of its current homiletical faculty.
The Columbia Preachers Studio for Renewal is to cultivate practices, provide resources, and facilitate holy encounters to help preachers proclaim the gospel in postmodern contexts in more compelling, effective and faithful ways. The program will include scripture engagement workshops, online pedagogy and peer learning opportunities, and preacher renewal experiences.
“In this season of the Church’s call for relevant and impacting proclamation, Holy Encounters: The Columbia Preachers Studio for Renewal will provide cutting-edge tools and resources in unique platforms to equip and empower servant-preachers who are challenged with delivering the Good News amid the horrific conditions of the day,” said Columbia President Dr. Victor Aloyo Jr. “This initiative is another marker of how Columbia Seminary seeks to boldly serve the Church and the world by supporting pastoral leaders in developing and implementing robust ministries.”
“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for this significant grant, which promises to deepen Columbia’s support and care for preachers in urgently needed and meaningful ways,” said Dr. Christine Roy Yoder, Columbia’s Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculty. “Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Jake Myers and Dr. Anna Carter Florence, The Columbia Preachers Studio for Renewal will offer a rich variety of resources and opportunities for preachers to retool and revitalize their practice of preaching and their ministries more broadly. We look forward to the many fruits of this bold initiative.”
Columbia Theological Seminary is one of 81 organizations receiving grants through this competitive round of the Compelling Preaching Initiative. Reflecting the diversity of Christianity in the United States, the organizations are affiliated with mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist and Pentecostal faith communities. Many of the organizations are rooted in the Black Church and in Hispanic and Asian American Christian traditions.
“Throughout history, preachers often have needed to adapt their preaching practices to engage new generations of hearers more effectively,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We are pleased that the organizations receiving grants in this initiative will help pastors and others in ministry engage in the kinds of preaching needed today to ensure that the gospel message is heard and accessible for all audiences.”
“Our vision is that this ministry will enable us to cultivate practices, provide resources, and facilitate holy encounters to help preachers proclaim the gospel in postmodern contexts in more compelling, effective, and faithful ways,” Myers said. “Especially in light of the traffic on social media of late about pastors burning out and/or quitting ministry, we hope that the workshops, retreats, pilgrimages, and online learning resources we provide will empower and equip preachers to hold true to their calling. Ministry is hard at the best of times. Through our rejuvenation efforts, we hope to inspire preachers to rediscover joy in their various ministry contexts — for the good of the church and the world.”
“This grant from Lilly Endowment provides a wonderful opportunity for Columbia to support preachers in their life and calling,” Florence said. “Our vision is to meet preachers where they are, through workshops and online resources and retreats and pilgrimage events, so they can strengthen skills, learn new ones, reignite their love for Scripture, and reconnect with what led them to this ministry in the first place. I can’t wait to get going!”
Lilly Endowment launched the Compelling Preaching Initiative in 2022 because of its 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 Columbia Theological Seminary
Columbia Theological Seminary “exists to educate and nurture faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the Church and the world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, go here.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private 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 a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.
A 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. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.
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