Updated: Oct 31
It’s not every day you get a seven-figure check in the mail! But that’s what happened last week when the Lilly Endowment’s commitment to our “Cultivating the Gift of Preaching” ministry arrived! We received one of the 81 grants from their Compelling Preaching initiative, for a total of $1.25 million to be invested in new preachers over five years. You can read the press release here.
Along with our partners Alma College, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and Cincinnati Presbytery, I am so excited about this new program, to be launched in early 2024. It will identify, train, and support lay preachers throughout our Synod in an eighteen month cycle which will begin each summer from 2024-2027. Each presbytery will be invited each year to send three elders or other church leaders to join in a cohort-based learning opportunity which will include two annual conferences, video training from leading homileticians, and written feedback on their sermons. Over the five years of the grant, the Synod will be strengthened by approximately 140 newly trained preachers.
These new preachers will be equipped to serve a particular congregation regularly, or to fill in
while the pastor is out on family leave/sabbatical, or to spell the regular preacher on a regular
basis. This will let elders live out their call to preach the Gospel, and bring a fresh, faithful voice to congregations throughout our bounds.
We will be hiring a half-time director for this ministry. We need a strong, detail-oriented leader
who can initiate and carry out the program. Preaching experience and expertise would be a plus. The position includes full Board of Pensions benefits, and the director could live anywhere within the synod. The job description will be completed soon; in the meantime, if God is leading you to apply, or to encourage someone else to apply, please contact me at
The scriptures remind us that God is the source of every good and perfect gift. Join me in giving thanks to God for this gift, and all the ways God will use it to strengthen our Synod.
Your partner in ministry,
Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD Executive