New Evangelism Training Cohorts Take Shape

The Foundation for Evangelism’s Grants Committee recently met to approve the creation of two new training cohorts. The Southwestern Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and World Methodist Evangelism are the groups leading these cohorts, supported by the Foundation. Both of these cohorts address the need for spiritual training in evangelism across the Wesleyan tradition family.

The Southwestern Episcopal District of the AMEZ church’s cohort will offer evangelism training for Directors of Evangelism, both in the AMEZ church, and other folks in the Wesleyan tradition. This six-session cohort will address biblical definitions of discipleship, spiritual preparation, practical approaches, training trainers, and will conclude with a commission for students to take what they have learned and use within their own ministries and communities. Following these training sessions, cohort participants will engage in quarterly follow-up sessions for two years.

World Methodist Evangelism’s cohort, FLAME 2.0 will cultivate strong pastoral leaders who are spiritually well-formed, equipped to empower others to make disciples, and committed to reaching their communities for Jesus Christ. The cohort will review proven processes focused on spiritual formation, mission action planning, and shared leadership for core learning. The program will also adapt content as themes emerge through cohort member input, as a form of contextual learning. FLAME fellows cohorts will experience a 10-month, in-depth program which includes coaching in a supportive small group context, relational accountability, the opportunity for collaborations work, and experiential learning through guest leaders as well as site visits in the US and abroad.

The Foundation for Evangelism’s support of these cohorts will promote evangelism training across the Wesleyan tradition, using proven processes that are structured by John Wesley’s teachings. Objectives learned will encourage practical application outside of the classroom, in church ministries and communities.

Support from our donors allows for the Foundation’s continued support of programs like the ones noted above. To read more about The Foundation for Evangelism’s Grant Focus Area’s, please visit:

Wallace Chappell Lecture Draws Crowd in Nashville

On an overcast drizzly day in February 750 students, faculty, pastors, deans, superintendents and people from a variety of ministry settings crowded into the Boone Convocation Center at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. An energy could be felt among those present, eager to hear well-known author, professor, and speaker, Rev. Dr. Tod Bolsinger, deliver the 2024 Wallace Chappell Lecture.

But if the crowd thought they were just there to hear about Bolsinger’s latest book, they got a whole lot more. His message was a challenge to go beyond comfort zones and not to default to what you already know, which can hold us back from sharing God with others. 

Foundation president, Jane Boatwright Wood, was among the crowd. “As I sat among the many attendees, I could sense their eagerness. Tod’s practical ideas and encouragement for fear-free Christian leadership captured their attention from the very beginning and held their interest throughout the 4-hour event.”

The themes in Dr. Bolsinger’s message also reinforced The Foundation for Evangelism’s approach to the Equipping the Local Church grant cycle which encourages experiments that share and embody the Gospel while meeting people where they are. Dr. Heather Lear, Vice President for Grant Administration, facilitated part of the lecture and made the connection – “Instead of facing change with fear and anxiety, we encourage grant applicants to step out in faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

She went on to say, “In our evolving church landscape where best practices and tactical solutions no longer work, Dr. Bolsinger challenged us to be explorers, seeking to learn and experiment.”

The lecture drew a diverse group of individuals, including students, pastors, faculty, deans, superintendents, and leaders from Trevecca, the midsouth district of the Church of the Nazarene, the Trevecca Alumni Association, and an estimated 40 laity from regional congregations. An estimated 750 people participated in the Wallace Chappell Lecture series, of which 678 were documented student attendees.

The Wallace Chappell Lectures are sponsored annually by the Foundation at a seminary or university. The lectures were established in 2002 through an endowment to honor the evangelistic legacy of Dr. Wallace D. Chappell, a United Methodist pastor who served churches in the Nashville, Western North Carolina and North Texas areas for over 50 years. These annual lectures make it possible for seminarians, ministry students, leaders and pastors to learn from recognized leaders in the area of Wesleyan-tradition evangelism.

“The Foundation equips evangelistic Christian leaders at every level, from laity to pastors, and the Wallace Chappell Lectures serve as a key tool for this mission,” shared Jane Boatwright Wood, President of the Foundation. “I left this year’s lecture feeling inspired, having witnessed an awakening of innovation and an imbuing of skills among these remarkable leaders.”

Laura Shepherd Joins Foundation Team

The Foundation for Evangelism welcomed the newest member of the team, Laura Shepherd, on January 22. Laura takes on the role of Development and Facilities Coordinator.

Laura brings 10 years experience working with nonprofits, and shared that,

“Working for other non-profits has prepared me to remember who I am serving, how to be flexible and be comfortable in wearing many hats.”

When asked about who has influenced her spiritual life, Laura says that she was fortunate to have had parents and extended family that prayed for her and future generations. “They all embodied and modeled their faith ‘on the daily.’ The list of others is too long but I carry them always as a sister in Christ.”

Laura admits that her favorite scripture is ever-changing, but recently she has been reflecting on God’s guiding truth. Psalm 19: 8-9 is particularly meaningful:

“The commands/statutes of the Lord are radiant/right, giving light to the eyes/rejoicing the heart. The fear/commandment of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees/judgements of the Lord are firm/true, and all of them are righteous.”

Psalm 19:8-9

One of Laura’s passions is learning about and growing medicinal plants and preparing them to share with friends and family. She likes to travel and enjoys reading, crafting, and cooking.

President Jane Boatwright Wood shared, “We are so pleased to have Laura join us. She is an amazing addition to the team.”

Latest Grant Cycle Receives 250+ Applications

Payne Chapel AME Church – a 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grant recipient

The Foundation for Evangelism closed its third grant cycle for Equipping the Local Church Grants on Feb. 29, 2024. When the application period closed, there were 259 applications submitted from 41 states and 8 Wesleyan denominations including:

  • African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
  • Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  • The Church of the Nazarene
  • Free Methodist Church
  • Global Methodist Church
  • The United Methodist Church
  • The Wesleyan Church

Each application offers a unique, contextually- appropriate strategy for their congregation’s evangelism ministry. Once the cycle closes, the applications move  to an internal screening by staff and the Foundation’s Grants Committee to determine which applications meet the criteria for the grant.

“Through our application, we seek to learn the story of each congregation’s gifts and opportunities to share the Gospel in creative ways, while trying to make the process straightforward and accessible for anyone,” said Dr. Heather Lear, Vice President for Grant Administration.

Following that initial screening, eligible grants will be reviewed by an independent review panel to help provide feedback on which grants best embody the intent of the grant to offer God’s transforming and abundant life – often addressing standard of living (physical needs), quality of life (belonging), and eternal (spiritual) life.

“Using the FFE values as the criteria, our application review panel looks at the underlying ideas and the intent to evaluate which grants will receive funding in this cycle. They look for new initiatives or experiments to share the Gospel in word and deed, build relationships, and invite others into a discipleship journey with Jesus.”

The 2024 application review panel represents a diverse range of expertise in evangelism, coming from five different Wesleyan-tradition denominations.

From the pool of applicants, up to 50 initiatives may be chosen for grant funding. The Foundation board and staff eagerly anticipate unveiling the selected initiatives in June of this year.