Baylor University Receives $1.5 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment for Project to Assist Congregations with Ministries that Explore Vocation

Feb. 8, 2018

Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMedia

Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Feb. 8, 2018) — Baylor University recently was awarded a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund a five-year project called Soundings. The project will allow Baylor to serve as an innovation hub for 15 Texas congregations as the university and congregational leaders together reflect deeply and theologically about the nature of vocation.

“The Soundings Project, so generously funded by Lilly Endowment, aims to support the common work of the Christian university and the church, namely to help people lead lives of purpose and significance,” said Darin H. Davis, Ph.D., vice president for university mission at Baylor University. “During the next five years, we hope to explore and nurture, along with congregations throughout the state, new models and approaches to the enduring question ‘How is God calling me — and us — to be faithful?’”

Through Lilly Endowment’s Called to Lives of Purpose and Meaning Initiative, Baylor is one of 13 organizations across the country that is establishing an innovation hub to assist congregations in designing and launching new and/or enhancing existing ministries to help Christians discover how God is calling them to lead lives of meaning and purpose. The grant offers Baylor an opportunity to deepen and extend its mission, benefit from congregational wisdom and form new, innovative partnerships to enhance the vitality of the university and the church, Davis said.

The 15 congregations will include nine congregations within the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BCGT), two Catholic, two mainline Protestant and two other traditions representing diverse ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The Baylor Soundings leadership team and advisory board will select these congregations according to the criteria created by the Soundings steering committee during the planning grant phase.

Oversight for the project will be shared by Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning (IFL) and the Center for Ministry Effectiveness (CME), housed in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary and led by Ron Cook, Ph.D., associate professor of Christian Scriptures and director of the Center for Ministry Effectiveness. Davis will serve as principal investigator of the project.

“Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary and its Center for Ministry Effectiveness are delighted to enter into partnership with our colleagues in the Institute for Faith and Learning in implementing the project, made possible by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment,” said Todd D. Still, Ph.D., The Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran DeLancey Dean and William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Seminary.

“In collaboration with congregations, we look forward to considering afresh and to understanding anew how a decidedly Christian understanding of vocation can enable people —and the churches to which they belong — to lead meaningful, fruitful lives of service to God and others. I regard this to be a pivotal project at an opportune time,” Still said.

The project’s three overarching objectives are:

  • to create mutually enriching partnerships between Baylor and selected Texas congregations to reclaim and deepen a biblical understanding of vocation
  • to strengthen congregational life through cultivating intergenerational communities within and between participating congregations as they explore how God calls people to lead lives of meaning and purpose in all seasons and vocations
  • to serve congregations as an “innovation hub” in which they can explore ways God may be calling them to respond in creative ways to complex issues and challenges.
  • by Joy Moton, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

    Looking for more news from Baylor University?