Jan 15, 2024 | John W. Coleman

The Rev. Darryl Stephens

The EPA&GNJ Leadership Academy’s new Lilly Endowment-funded Preaching Institute (LAPI) hired a new director and coordinator January 1. The Rev. Darryl Stephens, who chairs the Order of Deacons in the Eastern PA Conference and teaches at Lancaster Theological Seminary, will serve as director. An author, editor, and blogger, he also directs United Methodist Studies and the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Seminary.

Stephens was recently accepted as a full member of the 2024 Oxford Institute of Methodist Studies, where he will present a research paper in August at the University of Oxford in England.

“I am thrilled to be chosen to direct the Leadership Academy Preaching Institute,” said Dr. Stephens. “This three-year initiative will positively and directly impact at least 250 congregations and over a thousand laity and clergy within our conferences. Faithful and effective preaching is essential to our mission as United Methodists.”

Mary Cranwell is the institute’s new coordinator. She spent almost 40 years working at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ, as the Director of Conferences & Special Events.

Mary Cranwell

“I hosted (United Women of Faith’s) Mission u for about 10 years and became familiar with the practices and charisma of the GNJ UMC,” she writes. “The group’s outward expression of faith in their daily lives was inspirational, and am blessed to be part of creating this endeavor.”

GNJ received a grant $1,249,980 from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Compelling Preaching Initiative to further develop the Leadership Academy through a preaching module, in collaboration with the Eastern PA Conference. 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.

EPA&GNJ provide coaching and support for preachers and Staff-Parish Relations Committees to assist all preachers who want to grow and further develop their preaching skills.

“We are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s investment in the future of our preachers and congregations,” said Bishop John Schol. “We have excellent preachers in EPA&GNJ and look forward to working with clergy who want to continue to grow their preaching.”