The Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Launches the African American Church Evangelism Institute

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $1 million grant to Wheaton College (Ill.) to establish a new African American Church Evangelism Institute as a program of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center.

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $1 million grant to Wheaton College (Ill.) to establish a new African American Church Evangelism Institute as a program of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center.

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.

Through this grant, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center in partnership with influential African American pastors, will help catalyze a movement of evangelism and mission in local communities through local African American churches across the country.

John K. Jenkins Sr., chair of the oversight team for this effort and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Glenarden said:

“I am excited about this opportunity to help African American churches across the country to become more evangelistic, have greater impact in their communities, and develop leaders who are more effective in their congregations and communities.”

These influential African American pastors created a vision to facilitate cohorts that will serve 150 African American churches over the next five years and beyond. The new institute will focus on challenges facing African American congregations such as effectively reaching the next generation, fruitfully navigating shifting contexts and demographic changes occurring around their churches, developing team ministry approaches and leadership pipelines in congregations to launch new ministries, and creating new evangelism models that work effectively in a new era.

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