Alexandria, Va.- Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded $500,000 to Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) for a program entitled "Deep Calls to Deep: A Program to Strengthen Episcopal Preaching."
"The task of preaching is central to the work of formation," said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. "This four-year program will create options for our graduates to grow, develop and hone the craft of preaching. We are honored that the Seminary has been recognized as an appropriate home for this exciting project."
The Rev. Ruthanna Hooke, Ph.D., will oversee the program as executive director. Hooke is also an associate professor of homiletics and incoming associate dean of chapel. Donyelle McCray, Ph.D., instructor of homiletics and director of the Office of Multicultural Ministries, will serve as associate director. The core of the program is peer learning in groups to invite the connection between preaching and the rest of one's life.
"'Deep Calls to Deep' seeks to help working preachers and seminarians to renew their preaching practices by deepening their connection to the Holy Spirit," said Dr. Hooke. "At the core of our program is the opportunity for peer learning in community, as we believe that through this collegiality preaching is best developed and supported. We want to reach out to those who undertake the crucial and yet taxing work of preaching in our churches, to provide them with the nurture and challenge that will support them in this ministry for the long haul."
A central goal of the program is to explore embodiment and spirituality as two tools to rejuvenate the preaching of those who have been in ministry for at least five years. This grant from Lilly Endowment recognizes the outstanding work that the Seminary does both in preaching and in continuing education with its graduates.
Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 191 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.