February 3, 2023
Wheaton College is honored to receive a grant of one million dollars from Lilly Endowment to help establish the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Preaching Institute.
The Preaching Institute is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. Wheaton College 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 Wheaton College Billy Graham Center (WCBGC) will lead the new Preaching Institute.
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.
“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.”
To further this aim, WCBGC is convening an advisory team of exemplary preachers from diverse preaching traditions, denominations, and contexts to support the development and growth of the new Preaching Institute. Through content and curriculum creation, events, and a cohort model, participating pastors will learn from one another, the WCBGC advisory team, and other Christian leaders worldwide.
“We believe this new program will bring together a substantive advisory team of credible leaders in this field, helping to prepare preachers and teachers to serve emerging generations and diverse audiences,” said Michael Duduit, executive editor of Preaching Magazine and adviser for the Preaching Institute.
James Meeks, founder and senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, as well as an adviser for the Preaching Institute, says the institute meets a key need for pastors by offering “fresh approaches and new ways of thinking to help lead the lost to the solutions we have found in the Scriptures.”
“I am confident that through its ongoing partnership with known and respected pastors and leaders, a commitment to academic excellence, and its faithfulness to the mission of Jesus, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center has developed the trust, equity, and expertise necessary to lead the way in preparing preachers to be faithful for the future,” Meeks said.
Throughout its four decades of ministry, the WCBGC has demonstrated a commitment to developing and mobilizing Christ-followers for individual and corporate witness. The new Preaching Institute will contribute to helping pastors become more effective in their call to compellingly proclaim the gospel of Jesus, which is one of the core missions of the WCBGC, founded by evangelist Reverend Billy Graham ’43 in 1980.
“I am deeply convinced this work is needed now more than ever, as present and future generations need real, hands-on training from experienced leaders and research which backs up real-world issues the church is facing for greater Kingdom impact,” said Dr. Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the WCBGC.
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.