$1.25 million grant will support training women preachers at Portland Seminary

November 07, 2023

Seminary Students

PORTLAND, Ore. – Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded George Fox University a $1.25 million grant to support efforts at Portland Seminary that will help Christian women preachers strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways.

George Fox University is one of 81 organizations to receive a grant through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The initiative’s aim is 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.

The grants, which total more than $95 million and range from $275,400 to $1.25 million each, were awarded in a competitive second round of the initiative to organizations that represent a broad spectrum of Christian traditions in the U.S. They include mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist and Pentecostal faith communities. 

“Since the earliest days of Christianity, preaching has played a key role in communicating the good news of God’s love and nourishing the spiritual lives of Christians and their communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Throughout history, preachers often have needed to adapt their preaching practices to engage new generations of hearers more effectively. 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.”

Portland Seminary will use the grant to partner with the Leadership Center and Religion for Her to provide participants with seminary-level training in biblical and theological studies, preaching in multicultural contexts, spiritual direction and spiritual formation, professional networking, and peer mentoring to support their vocational development as preachers. Upon the completion of the one-year program, cohort participants will receive a Certificate in Biblical Foundations for Multicultural Preaching from Religion for Her. 

Women constitute 70% of Portland Seminary’s full-time faculty and over two-thirds of its student body. Portland Seminary offers four master’s degree programs – a Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a Master of Arts in Leadership and Culture – as well as a Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives, a Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics, Church and Culture, and a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation. “Our growing demographic of gifted women called to serve the church, in a season when the need is great for healthy, humble leaders, makes this a timely grant,” said Portland Seminary Dean Tammy Dunahoo, “we are most grateful to the Lilly Foundation for making it possible.”

George Fox University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best National University” and by The Wall Street Journal as the top private college in Oregon. More than 4,000 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Oregon, and at teaching centers in Portland and Redmond, Oregon. George Fox offers more than 60 academic programs at the undergraduate level, degree-completion programs for working adults, and 20 masters and doctoral degrees.



Carly Reumann

George Fox University