Theology of Work Project Receives Lilly Endowment Compelling Preaching Grant to Serve Hispanic Pastors in the United States

News and Events / Produced by TOW Project
Theology work lilly grant hispanic pastors

The Theology of Work Project has received a grant of $1,250,000.00 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Cuentistas Program.

The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The aim of the initiative 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 Cuentistas Program will equip Hispanic pastors across the United States to preach their own stories through the lens of the gospel. Given that many Hispanic pastors in the U.S. are co-vocational, these stories are often stories of work. Through online and in-person trainings on both sermon preparation and the theology of work, pastors will learn to adapt their stories (work stories) and weave them to their beliefs (faith stories), developing authentic, biblically grounded sermons about God at work in, through, and for the community. Each participant’s best sermon will be recorded and available for free worldwide at Theology of Work Project’s Spanish language site, The site will also host the “Cuentistas biblioteca (library)”, providing a compilation of robust theological resources for sermon sagas, sermon illustrations, and sermon delivery. The program will train 220 pastors in 11 cohorts across the nation.

“Because work is a central element of the Hispanic experience in the U.S. and storytelling is the cradle language of Hispanic communication, we believe this initiative will be a pioneering and unique experience for Hispanic pastors, resulting in compelling preaching,“ said Fernando Tamara, Director of Hispanic Initiatives and the Cuentistas Program at the Theology of Work Project. “This will carry a deep impact in participants’ own lives and in the lives of their hearers.”

The Theology of Work of Project is one of 81 organizations receiving grants through this competitive round of the Compelling Preaching Initiative. 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.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Compelling Preaching Initiative in 2022 because of its interest in supporting projects that help to nurture the religious lives of individuals and families and foster the growth and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.