Baylor University Receives $ 1 Million Grant From The Lilly Foundation To Help The Truett Seminary Launch The Future Church Project | Media and public relations

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WACO, Texas (December 15, 2021) – Baylor University has received a million dollar grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help the University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary launch the Future Church Project. The project – co-led by the Truett faculty Angela Gorrell, Ph.D., and Dustin Benac, Th.D. – is designed to meet the expressed needs and challenges of the church through relationship engagement, research and resources.

“We are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s vision and support for the Future Church project,” said Benac. “At a time of so much transition for the church and its leaders, I am hopeful because of what is emerging right now: the renewal of theological education through more collaborative approaches to ministry, teaching and leadership. We look forward to partnering with many others across Baylor, Truett and the wider Waco community to envision and implement this collective work. “

“We are grateful and delighted to have the support of Lilly Endowment,” said Gorrell. “With great hope and joy, we look forward to collaborating with excellent academics, practitioners and students to pilot useful and imaginative solutions to the challenges facing the church.”

The project is funded by Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow initiative, a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools in the United States and Canada set priorities and address the most pressing challenges they face. as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and in the future.

The Future Church Project will link the Seminary Program for the future church, the Truett Church Network and local non-profit association Waco Mission to achieve five stated objectives:

  1. Discover and address the current and emerging challenges facing local churches while cultivating collaboration between Truett, the church and the community.
  2. Build collaborative and interdisciplinary poles for research around the challenges facing the church.
  3. Create a culture of experimentation and exploration of alternative modalities for theological education and leadership development.
  4. Nourish and animate the souls and the work of ministers at the start of their careers.
  5. Increase Truett’s financial viability through innovative fundraising and recruiting efforts.

By emphasizing forward-thinking strategies and initiatives, the Future Church Project will strengthen the capacity of Truett Seminary to prepare and support pastors and lay ministers of the congregation in the future. The Future Church project will also support collaborative and interdisciplinary research across Baylor University, engaging researchers to understand and pilot solutions to the complex challenges facing local communities and Christian leaders.

“Baylor’s Truett Seminary is particularly keen to pay attention to research and programs on human development, leadership and ethics, one of the five initiatives of Enlighten. The Lilly Endowment grant affirms the seminary’s ability and potential to meet the needs of congregations and ministry leaders in thoughtful and innovative ways, ”said Baylor Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D ..“ We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for this award and look forward to witnessing the goals achieved by the Future Church Project. “

The Truett Seminary is one of 84 theological schools that will receive a total of more than $ 82 million in grants under the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent the Evangelical, Protestant, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Black traditions of the Church and the historic Church of Peace (eg, Brethren Church, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latin American, Korean-American, Chinese-American, and recent immigrant Christian communities.

“Theological schools have long played a central role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today these schools are in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in the way that makes most sense to them. We believe their efforts are essential to ensure that Christian congregations continue to have a constant flow of pastoral leaders who are well prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of her long-standing interest in supporting efforts to improve and maintain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and lay congregation leaders.

“Even though various reports of the disappearance of the Church in North America are greatly exaggerated, now is not the time to rest on ecclesial laurels,” said Todd D. Still, Ph.D., The Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran DeLancey Dean and The William M. Hinson Chair in Christian Scriptures at Truett Seminary. “This Lilly endowment would invest so generously and Drs. Gorrell and Benac would devote themselves so fully to such a timely and necessary project is a great grace. Over the years, Lilly Endowment has been instrumental in funding a number of strategic programs at Baylor in general and at Truett in particular. May the multifaceted, innovative and collaborative work of the new Program for the Church of the Future flourish and bear many fruits. ”


Lilly Endowment Fund Inc. is a private, Indianapolis-based philanthropic foundation established in 1937 by JK Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and JK Jr. through donations of shares in their pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company. Although stock donations remain a financial foundation of the Foundation, it is a separate entity from the company, with a separate board, staff and location. In accordance with the will of the founders, the Foundation supports the causes of communautary development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to the hometown of its founders, Indianapolis, and their home state, Indiana. The primary focus of its nationwide religion grants focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and to promote in a fair, accurate and balanced manner the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and nationally classified research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community to over 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for pedagogical excellence and faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Established in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and over 90 countries to study a wide range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University is an Orthodox evangelical school in the historic Baptist tradition that equips those called by God to the ministry of the gospel in and alongside the Church of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, The Truett Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Ministry and Ph.D. in preaching. M.Div., MACM, and MTS degrees can also be earned at seminar sites in Houston and San Antonio. Additionally, Truett Seminary offers joint degrees: M.Div./MSW and MTS / MSW with Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, M.Div./MBA with Hankamer School of Business, M.Div./JD with Baylor Law School, M.Div./MM with School of Music and M.Div./MSEd. or M.Div./MA with the School of Education. Visit to learn more.

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