Mountain Sky Conference to receive grant from Lilly Endowment

October 06, 2023
Friends in the Mountain Sky, we have some wonderful news to share with you!
The Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church has received a grant of $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help create a series of learning and fellowship cohorts over the course of five years to resource and educate preachers, both lay and clergy, across our vast geography.

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.
The Mountain Sky Conference plans to launch Compelling Preaching Cohorts, a series of regionally organized cohorts where lay and ordained preachers will have the chance to learn and grow in new ways to meet new needs. These cohorts are built on a peer learning model, in which preachers can workshop sermons together, learn from one another, and provide emotional and spiritual support as a deeply sustainable and impactful way of formation for Chrisitan leaders. These cohorts will include in-person and virtual gatherings and will be focused on three primary activities: practical training to lead preachers to connect with their communities, workshopping of sermons to help preachers hone their craft, and soul care to ensure that those leading Christian communities are healthy enough to continue to walk faithfully. The Mountain Sky Conference hopes this program will result in a rich network of preachers invested in one another, in their craft, and in the transformation of their communities through the sharing of the good news.

Bishop Karen Oliveto, Episcopal leader of the Mountain Sky Conference,  states that at its best, “preaching meets the listener where they are and ensures they end elsewhere.”

The Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church 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 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.