The Episcopal Preaching Foundation today announced the selection of six dioceses to pilot the Foundation’s Lay Preacher Training Initiative (“LPTI”). These will be The Episcopal Dioceses of East Tennessee; Central Gulf Coast; Minnesota; North Carolina; Nebraska; and Lexington.
Funded by a grant from Trinity Church Wall Street the goal of the LPTI is to develop a robust cadre of lay preachers drawn from within their local communities who can supplement ordained clergy in the pulpit. By training and supporting lay preachers in the Episcopal Church the program aims to establish lay preaching and lay leadership as a fourth dimension of diocesan leadership in the Episcopal Church alongside bishops, priests, and deacons.
Trinity’s Leadership Development initiative awarded the grant as part of its strategy to prepare faith leaders for action in the Church and the world by promoting and sharing innovations in practical, faith- and skills-based leadership development in theological education.
“Lay leaders are an important part of how the Church will thrive and serve the world in the future, and we are pleased to support the Episcopal Preaching Foundation’s efforts to form a new generation of skilled, effective, and faithful lay preachers and leaders,” said Robert Garris, Managing Director of Trinity’s Leadership Development initiative.
It is anticipated that the lay preachers trained in the pilot program will serve congregations lacking full-time or bi-vocational clergy, provide second-language preaching where the need exists, and offer a different voice of the Good News from within church communities of any size, as well as provide schedule relief on the preaching roster as needed.
The Rt. Rev. Brian D. Cole, Bishop of The Diocese of East Tennessee commented:
“For the Episcopal Preaching Foundation to give intentional energy to equipping lay preaching acknowledges that ministry begins with baptism. In the New Testament Church, we hear a chorus of voices proclaiming the Word with words. I believe the renewal of The Episcopal Church in this time will come quickly when we invite the chorus, the whole people of God, to boldly proclaim the story of God in us now.”
Beginning immediately, each pilot diocese will initiate the program by appointing a diocesan “champion” who will undergo an intensive six-week training during second half 2021. Once trained, diocesan champions will each initiate the recruitment and training of six lay preachers whose formation will begin early 2022 and continue for a two-year period.
National Coordinator for the LPTI, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Smith added:
“We chose dioceses we felt could have the most impact on a training program designed for the whole church. I have no doubt that what we learn through this process will lead to a curriculum and process that any diocese might use to raise up and train lay preachers”
The development and deployment of the LPTI curriculum is guided by an advisory council of preachers, teachers, and bishops. The final curriculum for training the champions and the trainee lay preachers will be made available to all interested dioceses once fully validated and refined through the pilot program.
Gary Shilling, Founder and Chairman of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation summarized the importance of this program for the EPF:
“All the studies show that good preaching is perhaps the most consistent hallmark of a vibrant parish. The EPF is privileged to partner with Trinity Church Wall Street to develop this important program that has the potential to scale across any and all dioceses that can benefit from the learning process the Foundation is just beginning through this pilot program.
About the Episcopal Preaching Foundation
The Episcopal Preaching Foundation encourages excellent preaching in the Episcopal Church. The EPF strongly believes in the foundational role of preaching to energize and build church membership and attendance in today’s challenging environment, as recently documented by Gallup and the Pew Research Center. Founded in 1987, the foundation began its programs in earnest immediately. Since then, more than 1,800 seminarians have passed through its Preaching Excellence Program, including numerous bishops and one presiding bishop. More recently, the EPF has expanded programming to embrace practicing parish clergy through the annual conference (“PEP-II”) and ad hoc diocesan and deacons’ conferences.
About Trinity Church Wall Street
Now in its fourth century, Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish of more than 1,200 members that seeks to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live Gospel truths, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities. The parish is guided by its core values: faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. Members come from the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding areas to form a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse congregation. More than 20 worship services are offered every week at its historic sanctuaries, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, the cornerstones of the parish’s community life, worship, and mission, and online at trinitywallstreet.org. The parish welcomes approximately 2 million visitors per year.
For more information, please contact:
Episcopal Preaching Foundation
Peter Wild (Executive Director)
Mobile (203) 448 8801
500 Morris Ave., Ste. 304
Springfield, NJ 07081