Oct 01, 2023 | James Lee

News Release: $1.2 Million Grant to The United Methodists of Eastern Pennsylvania and Greater New Jersey

The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey (GNJ) has received a grant $1,249,980 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to further develop the Leadership Academy through a preaching module. GNJ will collaborate with the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church (EPA) on this new effort.

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. 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. 

The Leadership Academy is a hybrid continuing education program with tracks and modules designed to empower laity and clergy to lead and grow vital mission congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ and connect and engage with the people in the community through ministries of witness, mercy and justice. 

“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.” 

This joint effort of the EPA&GNJ is one of 81 programs being funded through a 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.