Methodist Foundation Awarded $1.24 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (October 4, 2023) - The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas has received a grant of $1,249,972 from Lilly Endowment Inc., focusing on serving the local Methodist church by providing resources and support for leadership development.

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The initiative aims 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.

“Through the Compelling Preaching Initiative grant, The Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (MFA) seeks to build the capacity for bold, innovative preaching among Arkansas United Methodist clergy,” said Rev. J.J. Whitney, MFA’s Compelling Preaching Initiative Project Director. “This generous gift from Lilly Endowment creates opportunities for peer learning and coaching, preaching pilgrimages and workshops with renowned leaders, and retreats that provide space for creativity and resilience building.”

The MFA’s Compelling Preaching Initiative grant is a statewide five-year program open to clergy members of the Arkansas United Methodist Conference.

“I am thrilled and honored that The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas has been selected by the Lilly Foundation to receive one of the Compelling Preaching Initiative Grants,” said Rev. J. Wayne Clark, President and CEO of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas. “I appreciate the faith Lilly Endowment has put into the Foundation and look forward to the ways the Foundation can assist Arkansas clergy on their preaching skills that will make the churches stronger and equip even more disciples.”

The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas 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.

About The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas
The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas manages over $220 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United Methodist ministries. The Foundation is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country. Founded in 1963, it is responsible for over 800 funds that support Methodist ministries. Visit for more information.

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 religion's role in the United States and across the globe.



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