Bridge for Early Career Preachers to Expand

Richmond, VA (November 3, 2023)—Union Presbyterian Seminary recently received a grant of $249,920 from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand The Bridge for Early Career Preachers. The program was developed with the support of an earlier grant from Lilly Endowment made through its Compelling Preaching Initiative.

The Bridge for Early Career Preachers provides resources, continuing education, and a supportive community for those who are moving from aspiring to active preaching ministries. The Bridge’s cohort approach invites a group of early career pastors each year to focus on peer coaching, digital technology for preaching, preaching on significant social issues, and preaching with diverse communities.

The supplementary grant will enable The Bridge to expand its next four cohorts and focus on recruiting a diverse cohort. In addition, this grant will enhance The Bridge’s public programming, such as its webinar conversations, on a wide variety of preaching topics.

Dr. Richard Voelz, Director of The Bridge for Early Career Preachers at Union Presbyterian Seminary, noted: “We are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s support. During our first year, we established a program that invests in early career preachers. Conversations with our inaugural cohort confirm our program has been meaningful in supporting their development in preaching. We look forward to the ways that these funds will expand and enhance our work.”

UPSem’s President, Dr. Jacqueline Lapsley, added: “Encouraging new ministers is core to the Seminary’s mission. Today’s preachers are learning how to reach multiple audiences with changing technology, and the Bridge for Early Career Preachers is a wonderful example of innovation.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. 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.

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