$1.1 million grant will help Anderson University launch Center for Preaching Excellence

Anderson University has received a $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the Clamp Center for Preaching Excellence.

The program, which is based in the Anderson University College of Christian Studies and Clamp Divinity School, 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 Clamp Center for Preaching Excellence will facilitate several key initiatives, including creation of an enhanced preaching curriculum for both new and veteran pastors, ongoing mentoring and coaching programs, and development of training resources specifically designed for pastors in African American churches. The Clamp Center for Preaching Excellence will include the recently launched Center for the Study of African American Preaching.

“We are thankful for this unique opportunity provided by the Lilly Endowment, which will make a difference in the work of countless pastors,” Anderson University President Evans Whitaker said. “The Clamp Center for Preaching Excellence will be a further expression of Anderson University’s commitment to serve the local church and those who minister there.”

Clamp Divinity School’s founding dean, Michael Duduit, believes this Center will be a valuable addition to the School’s existing resources for pastors, which include publishing Preaching magazine, sponsoring the annual National Conference on Preaching and offering academic curriculum, including a Ph.D. program in preaching. In addition to creating the Clamp Center for Preaching Excellence, Anderson University is assisting Wheaton College in carrying out its project funded by Lilly Endowment, which includes hosting the 2024 National Conference on Preaching on the campus of Wheaton College in suburban Chicago.

Anderson University is one of 81 organizations receiving grants 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.