Wheaton College's Billy Graham Center Institute has just launched a new church evangelism institute for African Americans.
The institute, which is called the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center African-American Church Evangelism Institute, was started by a one-million-dollar grant from the Lilly Endowment, inc., an organization that is devoted to the "promotion and support of religious, educational or charitable purposes."
The grant allows the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center to partner with influential African American pastors to "help catalyze a movement of evangelism and mission in local communities through local African American churches across the country."
The Institute's Oversight Team is chaired by Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., who is also the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Glenarden. Jenkins is an NBA chaplain and also mentor in addition to being head pastor.
When asked about the project, Jenkins asserted, "I am excited about this opportunity to help African American churches across the country to become more evangelistic, have greater impact in their communities, and develop leaders who are more effective in their congregations and communities."
The Institute's Oversight Team is also vice-chaired by Rev. Dr. Michael Henderson Sr., who is the Senior Pastor of New Beginnings Church in Matthews, N.C.
Henderson concurred with Jenkins, but also elaborated on the situation as they see it, stating "African American churches nationally are facing new challenges. We need culturally adapted methods and approaches for community engagement and evangelism and strengthened strategies and structures for leadership development. I could not be more enthusiastic about the partnership with Wheaton College to work toward these goals."
The goal is to serve 150 African American churches over the next five years and beyond. It will focus on helping African American churches reach the next generation and "navigate shifting contexts and demographic changes occurring around their churches”, and creating outreach missions and new evangelical models for what Christianity Today calls a "new era."
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.