The Center for Faith and Justice will develop the Preaching Justice Fellowship with the support of a $1.25 million grant received by the University of Redlands from Lilly Endowment Inc.
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 Preaching Justice Fellowship will offer an online community, seminary courses at San Francisco Theological Seminary and other collaborating institutions, peer learning groups, retreats, conferences, research, and other resources around a rich cohort experience. Preaching Justice builds on an existing spiritual and public theology curriculum at the Center for Faith and Justice by introducing for further consideration five key shifts occurring in contexts of religious and spiritual disorientation: (1) from triumphalism to lament, (2) from morality to dignity, (3) from certainty to mystery, (4) from superiority to mutuality, and (5) from rhetoric to embodiment. Identifying justice concerns in each shift, the program will invite preachers to reflect on how they might meet their hearers in the midst of their questions.
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“At the heart of our program, we affirm the sermon as a critical act of proclamation, borne out of the individual preacher’s call, gifting, and labor. At the same time, far from a singular moment of one-way communication, our program design recognizes the potential of myriad dialogical processes before, during, and after the preached word,” said Peter Choi, Executive Director of the Center for Faith and Justice. “Put simply, compelling preaching is proclamation and conversation. When multiple perspectives converge in sermon crafting, and as the preacher participates in an ongoing discussion about matters treated in the sermon, preaching becomes multiple acts of listening and speaking, envisioning and building a new world. Effective sermons are the fruit of profoundly careful listening, and compelling preaching is the culmination of preachers paying scrupulous attention to the world of their hearers.”
The Preaching Justice Fellowship is one of 81 programs being funded 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.”
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 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.