Calvin Theological Seminary

Compelling Preaching Initiative Lilly Grant

Calvin Theological Seminary has received a grant of almost $960,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Compelling Preaching Initiative. The grant will be led by Calvin Theological Seminary’s Center for Excellence in Preaching (CEP).

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 COVID-19 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 says, “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 pandemic has also revealed significant partisan divides in many congregations. “It seems as though the acoustics in the church have changed,” Hoezee says. “How people hear sermons and what they may read into the words of preachers now are all very different from even just five to ten years ago.”

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

Calvin Theological Seminary is one of 32 organizations receiving funding in an invitational round of grants in the Compelling Preaching Initiative, which is designed to help Christian pastors strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways.

President of Calvin Theological Seminary Jul Medenblik shared, "We are thankful for this recognition by Lilly Endowment of the current ministry through the Center for Excellence in Preaching so ably led by Rev. Scott Hoezee as well as this catalytic opportunity to expand the scope and reach of the ministry with the focus of deep impact through preaching for the building up of local churches and disciples of Jesus Christ."

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.

“With gratitude to Lilly Endowment Inc.” Hoezee says, “we are praying for the Lord to bless this program in helping preachers do their vital work of Gospel proclamation even in challenging times.”
- Scott Hoezee, Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based 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. Although the gifts of stock remain a 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 founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.