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Saint Paul Secures Transformational $1 Million Grant

Saint Paul Secures Transformational $1 Million Grant

"Saint Paul School of Theology has received a grant of $1,065,405 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Pause/Play Center for Preachers. 

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. 

With the help of Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching grant, Saint Paul School of Theology will create a Center that addresses the risk of losing heart and prophetic imagination as a preacher in this divided world. The Pause/Play Center for Preachers’ mission is in its name: to hold space for busy preachers to pause and play their way into a renewal of their vocation as preachers of the Good News. The activities of the Pause/Play Center will launch in early 2024.  

“As a preacher, former pastor, and professor of preaching, I see a connection between reports of stress, loneliness, conflict, and un-compelling preaching,” says Rev. Dr. Casey Sigmon, Director of Pause/Play. “We preach who we are. And many preachers are, at this moment, exhausted, lonely, apathetic, and afraid to stir up any more conflict that leads to division in the church. This Center—through an annual arts-centered gathering, yearlong cohorts, and a podcast—will hold sacred in-person and digital space for preachers to play their way back into prophetic imagination.” 

Saint Paul School of Theology 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. 



Educating tomorrow’s leaders by offering on-campus, online, and hybrid learning courses at a FLEXible schedule, Saint Paul School of Theology is a seminary serving a diverse community committed to the formation of people for innovative, creative ministry. Grounded in the academic study of faith and ministry, theology is practiced in a traditional classroom and in a contextual curriculum featuring Ministry Collaboration Groups, Practicums, Spiritual Formation Retreats, and Seminars. Students learn from dedicated faculty, experienced pastors, and community leaders about best ministry practices leaving our graduates with the tools and first-hand experience necessary to meet the needs of a changing world." 

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