Some of you may remember my work with a project called Preaching with the Sciences at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union.

Now, a followup: 

Catholic Theological Union (CTU) has received a grant of $1.249 million from Lilly Endowment Inc as part of the Compelling Preaching Initiative. This initiative is designed 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.

CTU is one of 81 organizations receiving grants. 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.”

Building on its groundbreaking Preaching with the Sciences initiative, CTU’s Compelling Preaching project is a pioneering partnership with the renowned psychologist Howard Nusbaum of the University of Chicago. Designed to discover how neuroscience and allied fields can enable more effective preaching, the project will conduct empirical studies on real-time preaching and monitor its effects on both English and Spanish-speaking congregations. The goal is to help preachers better understand the impact of their homilies on assemblies. It is also intended to enable those who educate preachers to adapt their pedagogies for shaping new generations of compelling homilists.

“This is a unique and necessary dialogue between science and preaching that promises visionary contributions to the homiletic and liturgical arts,” says Edward Foley, Capuchin, who will oversee the grant.

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