Thanks to the generosity of John and Marjem Gill of Little Rock, an annual Methodist preaching workshop hosted by Hendrix College will continue in perpetuity, Chaplain Wayne Clark announced recently.
The Gills, members of First United Methodist Church of Little Rock, were instrumental in starting the workshop in 1984. Since then, more than 380 ministers – including more than 60 percent of the current active United Methodist clergy in Arkansas – have attended. Their recent $50,000 donation has created the John and Marjem Gill Annual Preaching Workshop and Lectures Endowment, which will allow the two-day workshop to become a permanent, annual resource for Methodist ministers and Hendrix students alike.
The endowment will provide resources to bring to campus each year a national leading preacher or professor with expertise in homiletics. The workshop leader will present a lecture that is open to the public, lead a workshop for clergy, and, when appropriate, preach in the chapel, meet with pre-theological students, and visit classes of Hendrix students.
"I have been very blessed during my time at Hendrix to have an opportunity to work with John and Marjem on bringing some of the best preachers to Hendrix College,” Clark said. “Their love for the United Methodist Church is seen in so many ways. Their gracious gift will continue to provide an excellent workshop for Arkansas preachers and current Hendrix students."
Twenty-five clergy from the United Methodist Church of Arkansas will be invited to attend, free of charge, each year. Additional ministers may also choose to participate for a small fee. All interested Hendrix College students are also welcome to the Gill Preaching Workshop, which will be a tremendous resource for them in their own vocational discernment, Clark said.
While on campus for the workshop, participants will engage in activities and discussions that will translate directly into improved sermons and preaching skills. The workshop also will serve to reinforce the historic relationship that exists between Hendrix College and local United Methodist churches in Arkansas, Clark said.
Former leaders include Tom Long, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Gene Lowry. Walter Brueggemann, a preacher and Old Testament scholar, will lead the 2008-09 workshop.