The grant will help establish NEXT Church’s Preaching for Change Project
by NEXT Church | Special to Presbyterian News Service
This five-year project will gather diverse cohorts of preachers and church leaders across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who are leading congregations toward transformation in their communities, with a particular focus on justice and equity. This project stands at the intersection of who NEXT Church has been and the commitment to continually listen to the needs of Christian leaders in order to serve the Church.
“We are very grateful to receive this grant from the Lilly Endowment,” said John Wilkinson, convener of the NEXT Church Leadership Team. “It aligns closely with our continuing vision of supporting congregations and leaders in transformational ministry. We are especially grateful to our writing team of Layton Williams, Yena Hwang and Casey Thompson. We look forward to the ways that this generous grant can serve the mission of NEXT Church, and more so, our support of transformational ministry in our Presbyterian community.”
Hwang, a member of the Preaching for Change team, said, “I am thrilled for this exciting opportunity … which will allow us to utilize the resources NEXT Church has developed over the years, such as cohort coaching and antiracism training, and apply them in the work of equipping/supporting preachers in various contexts as they continue to shape the landscape of ministry with preaching that is compelling and transformative. I look forward to the work of the Holy Spirit that will breathe and lead us in our collaborative endeavors.”
Casey Thompson, a member of the Preaching for Change team, said, “I believe preaching still stands as the primary practice for pastors to move their congregants toward change. I look forward to supporting pastors as they endeavor to do so.”
The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. NEXT Church 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.
“We are excited about the work that these organizations will do to foster and support preaching that better inspires, encourages and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Their programs will serve a significant number of aspiring and current preachers who are working to reach and engage increasingly diverse audiences both within and beyond congregations.”
The Compelling Preaching Initiative is part of the 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 Inc.
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 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. 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 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.
About NEXT Church
NEXT Church is a network of leaders — church members, ruling elders, youth leaders, educators, pastors, seminarians and professors — within and beyond the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who believe the Spirit is moving powerfully in the church today, even as what it means to be church is changing.
NEXT Church seeks to follow God by strengthening the relational fabric of church — connecting healthy tissue to healthy tissue. We do this by cultivating congregations and leaders who work in sustained, effective, and faithful ways to promote God’s transformation of our communities for the common good.
In all of our work, we actively seek to confront systems and structures of oppression in ourselves and the world around us. As those steeped in a tradition that trusts in repentance and grace, we recognize we do our work imperfectly and yet we continually strive to learn, seek forgiveness, and go a new way.
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