CHICAGO — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the ELCA Compelling Preaching: Transformed Listeners Initiative.
The goal of the initiative is to cultivate persuasive preaching by inviting ELCA ministry leaders to review research findings about current preaching settings; propose innovative ways to apply those learnings in their individual ministry contexts; participate in funded cohort learning initiatives; and produce successful preaching foundations for all lay leaders and rostered ministers seeking to transform lives through the gospel. A $50,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. earlier in 2022 supported the initiative’s research phase.
“We believe the word of God has power, changes lives and transforms communities,” said the Rev. Louise Johnson, ELCA executive for administration. “To have the opportunity to understand the task of preaching from the perspective of the listener is an extraordinary gift in a world longing for justice, reconciliation and healing. We are deeply grateful for the Lilly Endowment’s commitment to the life and health of congregations and anticipate that this work will lead us to live more faithfully into our calling as a church to steward the word of God.”
“While the story never changes, the ways people communicate have rapidly been changing,” said the Rev. Philip Hirsch, ELCA executive director for Christian Community and Leadership. “Zoom, Facebook Live, TikTok and Instagram have changed the methods by which people have engaged in the message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our hope is that people’s lives will be well reflected in the messages they hear and see, and that the good news of Jesus will lead us all to a more hopeful future that God has in mind for humanity.”
The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The ELCA 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 long-standing 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.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3 million members in more than 8,700 worshipping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. The ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
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 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.
For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder