Published on March 9, 2018 by Kristen Padilla  
Hodges Dome summer

Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School has received a $250,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to sustain and expand the work of its Initiative to Strengthen the Quality of Preaching. 

The Initiative to Strengthen the Quality of Preaching began in 2013 with a $500,000 Lilly Endowment grant. Since 2015, Associate Dean Grant Taylor and Robert Smith Jr., the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity, have co-directed the initiative. 

During the last four years, Taylor said this initiative has sought to strengthen the quality of preaching for current students and working pastors by developing peer groups of working pastors, hosting both conferences and workshops, offering new preaching elective courses to current divinity students, and providing other resources. From the beginning, Beeson alumna Hayden Walker has served as assistant project director, overseeing the creation and management of peer groups. 

This grant-funded initiative has brought noted preachers and scholars to the divinity school, such as Liam Goligher, Christian T. George, Cleophus James LaRue, Phillip Jensen and Todd Wilson. 

This new four-year sustainability grant (2018-21) will focus on the initiative’s efforts to equip working pastors through peer groups and divinity students through the teaching of biblical Christian preaching. The grant will allow the creation of more peer groups and increase the amount of financial resources available to pastors for preaching development. 

Beeson Divinity has already begun using this new funding. In January 2018, the initiative brought in Bryan Chapell, senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois, and author of Christ-Centered Preaching, to teach an intensive preaching workshop called “Preaching: The Task of Application.” In February, Michael Pasquarello III gave the William E. Conger Jr. Lectures on Biblical Preaching supported by this new grant.   

“We are very encouraged to receive this sustainability grant from Lilly Endowment,” Taylor said. “The Initiative to Strengthen the Quality of Preaching aligns perfectly with our mission to prepare God-called men and women for service in the church. Preaching is central to that service, and our benefactor, Ralph Waldo Beeson, wanted this school to train ‘pastors who can preach.’ 

“With this sustainability grant, the potential for educational impact across the institution and in the community is very high,” he added. “We are excited to see what the Lord will do for his gospel and his church through this project.” 

To learn more about the initiative, view upcoming events, and access media resources, visit

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.