The Compelling Preaching Coordination Program celebrates the unique contributions that very different kinds of institutions— congregations, denominations, seminaries, universities, colleges, non-profit organizations, informal peer leader learning groups— can make to strengthening the ecology of North American Christianity, while discerning how we can collaborate for greater fruitfulness.

Compelling Preaching Initiative Grantees

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary will produce weekly preaching commentaries on the Scripture readings, host workshops that foster pastoral understanding about how parishioners listen to sermons and develop practical skills in key areas of preaching, create mentoring teams to provide customized learning and personalized support for priests and deacons, hold annual preaching festivals, organize community-focused conversations and preaching events to take preaching beyond parishes, and develop a web portal to share the resources and work of the Institute. Grant awarded in 2023.

Saint John’s University will engage priests, religious members of the community, and scholars of the Benedictine traditions to explore particular values and practices that shape Benedictine methods of preaching, gather preachers and community members to practice these communal methods of preaching, integrate these methods into the seminary’s teaching of preaching, and expand opportunities for preachers to learn these preaching methods through workshops, courses and consultations. Grant awarded in 2023.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, in collaboration with the Church Anew network, will bring together a group of preachers from different racial, ethnic, theological and national backgrounds to learn from one another about their different preaching practices. Participating pastors will work with preaching exemplars and experts in communication, participate in preaching retreats, and receive small grants to implement innovations in their own preaching practices. The program will also produce digital preaching resources, organize webinars and host national preaching festivals. Grant awarded in 2023.

St. Nersess Armenian Seminary seeks to establish preaching as a more significant component of pastoral leadership and spiritual life for Armenian clergy in the United States. Programming will include online webinars on preaching to instill confidence in Armenian Orthodox preachers and to build shared preaching and communication practices, in-person regional preaching workshops and larger annual preaching retreats to enhance the preaching skills of diverse clergy, and the creation of an interactive library of resources that adapt the treasures of Armenian preaching for modern preaching needs. Grant awarded in 2023.

Saint Paul School of Theology seeks to foster courage among preachers and encourage them to preach sermons that address issues of wholeness, justice and peace in divided times. Programming will include peer learning preaching cohorts for mutual learning and for receiving coaching on preaching practices, annual conferences to sharpen preaching skills and nurture the wellbeing of preachers, and podcasts featuring well-known preaching exemplars as well as cohort participants to share insights from the preaching cohorts with wider audiences. Grant awarded in 2023.

St. Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, MN will work collaboratively with Discerning Deacons and the Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame to prepare and support women for current and future preaching opportunities in Catholic contexts. Program activities include two-year, low-residency experiences featuring in-person intensives, virtual lectures, peer learning and mentorship, preaching festivals for Catholic women preachers, and communication efforts with the wider Catholic Church. Grant awarded in 2023.

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary will invite 75 priests to participate in a two-year program to cultivate the rhetorical skills, spiritual practices, and theological and apologetic insights needed for compelling preaching. The program also will include coaching and peer support for priests. In addition, St. Vladimir’s will develop online resources for priests and conduct ongoing interdisciplinary research and host conferences about what makes preaching compelling in Orthodox contexts. Grant awarded in 2022.

Samford University will launch new and enhance existing preaching-focused programs for seminarians at its theological school, undergraduate students in pre-ministry training programs, and high school students discerning ministerial vocations, gather pastors who serve in diverse contexts into peer learning preaching groups to engage in workshops and retreats focused on forms of preaching that more effectively reach new audiences, and develop a cadre of exemplary Preaching Fellows who will serve as mentors for aspiring preachers and contribute to newly proposed annual conferences and a preaching podcast. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology will gather lay leaders and ordained clergy who preach into peer learning cohorts to help them develop their preaching skills. Participants will give and receive constructive feedback on their preaching, provide encouragement and support to one another in crafting sermons, and work with preaching coaches. The program will pay special attention to new approaches for preaching that are effective in reaching listeners in the largely secular Pacific Northwest region. In addition, the program will produce a podcast on preaching and host annual preaching events. Grant awarded in 2023.

Seton Hall University, along with its Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, seeks to help preachers discern and experience the significance and power of Christian hospitality as they prepare and deliver sermons that share the gospel message in ways that are inviting and welcoming. Program activities will include opportunities to reflect on the role of hospitality in delivering more effective sermons, annual retreats that offer training for future preachers, bimonthly preaching clinics to help aspiring preachers develop preaching skills, the production of new online preaching resources. Grant awarded in 2023.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) will develop an annual, two-day Great Commission preaching conference, host regular workshops dedicated to training participants in Christ-centered expository preaching on campus and in conjunction with ministry partners such as the North Carolina Baptist Convention. SEBTS will also facilitate cohorts, offer coaching by preaching professors, and provide content through journal articles, a blog, and a podcast. Grant awarded in 2024. 

The Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ aims to equip both lay leaders and clergy to proclaim the gospel message more effectively through cohort-based opportunities for preachers to learn basic preaching skills as well as new methodologies for preaching virtually in digital media, preaching camps for preachers to engage with renowned preaching professors, guest preachers and peers to receive support and feedback on their preaching, events to highlight exemplary preachers who participated in the program, and a digital “library” of sermons and other resources for preachers. Grant awarded in 2023.

Street Psalms will pilot a new “Preaching Table” model in which pastors explore preaching with a focus on peace and the flourishing of their communitiesWith the support of Street Psalms in the form of resources and trained facilitators, pastors will then establish similarly structured preaching tables in their own congregations with laypeople and other ministerial staff. Grant awarded in 2024.  

The Synod of the Covenant Presbyterian Church (USA), will work with Alma College, the Presbytery of Cincinnati, and Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary to identify, train and support aspiring and newer preachers who have not received graduate theological training and equip them for effective and sustainable preaching ministries. Programming will include monthly cohorts guided by preacher-mentors, annual preaching conferences that bring together cohort participants and preaching exemplars, and written sermon feedback for preachers from laypeople. Grant awarded in 2023.

Taylor University’s program includes a new non-degree certificate as well as a new preaching minor for undergrads, a Master Class series bringing exemplars to campus but also sharing their wisdom through video and podcasts, a preaching lab for students and preachers in the region to experiment with new technologies, and an award for excellence in preaching. Grant awarded in 2024.