Truett Seminary Names New Director of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, and Baylor University Receives a $1.25 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

October 20, 2023

WACO, Texas (October 23, 2023) - Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that Jared E. Alcántara, PhD, professor of preaching and the holder of the Paul W. Powell Endowed Chair in Preaching at Truett, has been appointed as the director of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, and Baylor University has been awarded a grant of $1.25 million from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to support Truett Seminary’s initiative focused upon minoritized preaching for the good and growth of the Church.

“I count it a privilege to succeed Dr. Gregory as the director of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching,” said Alcántara. “He leaves behind a rich legacy of faithful preaching, training, innovation, and bridge building. I will do my best to honor that legacy in the days ahead. Let me also state how excited and grateful I am that Lilly Endowment is supporting the compelling preaching project at the Kyle Lake Center. This generous gift comes at just the right time in this season of transition for Truett Seminary and Baylor University. Not only does it help the Center to carry forward Dr. Gregory’s legacy, but it also positions us in the best possible way to support and equip aspiring and active preachers to meet the needs of an intercultural church with an intercultural future.” 

Alcántara holds a BA from Wheaton College, a MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a ThM from the University of Edinburgh (New College), and a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. An ordained Baptist minister, he has served as a youth pastor, associate pastor, and teaching pastor in Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, and New Jersey. Before coming to Truett Seminary in 2018, Alcántara served as associate professor of homiletics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Until the end of 2023, the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching will remain under the direction of Joel C. Gregory, PhD, professor of preaching and holder of the George W. Truett Endowed Chair in Preaching and Evangelism. The Kyle Lake Center, named in honor of a deeply beloved, now-deceased Truett graduate, provides support for seminarians who are learning the preaching craft. It also offers continuing education opportunities in preaching to pastors and others in ministry with events like the annual African American Preaching Conference and the National Preaching Conference.

Regarding the appointment of Alcántara, Charlie E. Dates, PhD, senior pastor of the Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, stated, “Few voices have shaped the mind and sound of preaching in the last century like Joel Gregory. He is a national treasure. Truth is, it is impossible to fill his shoes. Thanks be to God that a new, promising scholar has emerged to stand on Gregory’s shoulders. The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching is in great hands with Jared Alcántara.”

Additionally, Ralph Douglas West, founder and senior pastor of The Church Without Walls in Houston, noted, “Joel Gregory has had a tremendous impact and influence on the discipline of preaching through his work in the Kyle Lake Center. His retirement comes with a blessing, however. Jared Alcántara’s acceptance of this position only serves to further the cause of Christ in new and profound ways. We wait with eager anticipation to see the great and wonderful things God will do through his tenure as leader of the Kyle Lake Center.”

As the Kyle Lake Center continues to educate and encourage preachers, the $1.25 million Lilly-funded grant will enable Truett Seminary and the Kyle Lake Center to address rapid demographic changes and to equip intercultural churches with aspiring and active preachers. The funding for this initiative comes through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative, which aims 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.

Embedded into Baylor, a R1 research university in the historic Baptist tradition, Truett Seminary is one of 81 organizations whose projects are being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. Reflecting the diversity of Christianity in the United States, organizations receiving grants are affiliated with mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist, and Pentecostal faith communities. Many of the organizations receiving grants are rooted in the Black Church, 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.”

Alcántara will be joined in this significant grant project by co-investigators Adam Bond, Joao Chaves, Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, Dennis Horton, and Angel Santiago-Vendrell, each of whom is a professor either at Truett Seminary or in Baylor’s Department of Religion.

“Even as Baylor’s Truett Seminary has been richly blessed through the presence and influence of Joel C. Gregory, we have been strengthened immeasurably in recent years by the addition of Jared E. Alcántara to our highly esteemed preaching faculty,” noted Todd D. Still, PhD, dean of Truett. “Dr. Alcántara is widely and rightly regarded as an invaluable voice and emerging leader in the field of homiletics. His appointment to succeed Dr. Gregory as the director of the Kyle Lake Center and this significant grant from Lilly Endowment indicate the same. Truett has been a destination location for the study and practice of preaching. These fortunate announcements signal this will remain the case for the foreseeable future.”           

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary is an orthodox, evangelical, multi-denominational school in the historic Baptist tradition that equips God-called people for gospel ministry in and alongside Christ’s Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, Truett Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts in Contextual Witness and Innovation, Master of Arts in Theology, Ecology and Food Justice, Master of Arts in Theology and Sports Studies (online), Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Ministry, and Ph.D. in Preaching. Truett Seminary also offers joint degrees through Baylor University school/college partnerships in social work, business, law, music, and education. In addition to the flagship Baugh-Reynolds Campus in Waco, the Seminary also has additional instructional sites in Houston and San Antonio. Visit the Truett Seminary website to learn more.


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.