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Convocation will Inaugurate New McAfee Center for Teaching Churches

March 31, 2011

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

ATLANTA – The Center for Teaching Churches at Mercer’s James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology will hold its Inaugural Convocation April 12 on the University’s Atlanta Campus. Dr. Fred Craddock, nationally renowned preacher and emeritus professor at Candler School of Theology, will deliver the convocation address in Day Hall at 10:45 a.m. The convocation is the highlight of a day of events unveiling the Center.

The event serves to inaugurate the McAfee Center for Teaching Churches, which has been in development since January 2010, when the School received a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment. The Center grant followed a Lilly-sponsored pilot program at the School that brought young ministers into churches with a full range of support to help their transition into ministry. The Center expands on that work by strengthening the preparation of graduates for the practical, professional dimensions of congregational ministry and integrates churches more effectively into the formation of ministers. The Center aims to build a new model for addressing all of these needs in a comprehensive fashion.

“We are very pleased that our work with the Center for Teaching Churches has progressed to this point,” said Dr. James N. “Dock” Hollingsworth Jr., the Center’s executive director. “The Inaugural Convocation will be a ‘launch event,’ that celebrates the Center’s mission.”

Dr. Craddock is an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served pastorates in Tennessee and Oklahoma. He has written a number of books, including The Pre-Existence of Christ (1968), As One Without Authority (1971, rev.1974 and 1979), Overhearing the Gospel (1978), The Gospels (1981), commentaries on John (1982) and Philippians (1984),  Preaching (1985), and a commentary on Luke (1990) and has contributed articles in a number of scholarly journals.

“Dr. Craddock will give us great inspiration for the day and, as we celebrate with the churches that are participating in the work of the Center, we will be looking to encourage other churches to be engaged with us,” said Dr. Ron Grizzle, the Center’s director. “Of course, our deepest hope is to see our new ministers as they transition into the churches of Georgia and the Southeast become exceptionally effective in ministry.”

As part of the event, there will be a luncheon in the Trustees Dining Room for churches around the state and the Southeast who are partners with the Center. The School will also make a special presentation to the churches that have previously had a resident minister in the program and to churches that are aligning with the work of the Center.
Throughout the day, the School will have other partners engaged with classes at the School, including:
• Dr. Johnny Pierce, executive editor of Baptists Today
• Dr. Bill Wilson, president of the Center for Congregational Health in Winston-Salem, N.C.
• Dr. Allen Walworth, president and principal of Generis
• Dr. Z. Allen Abbott, senior benefits consultant, Ministers and Missionaries Benefit
• Board in Atlanta
• Dr. John Adams, of the Pastoral Institute in Columbus
• Dr. Terry Hamrick, of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
• The Rev. Frank Broome, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia
• The Rev. Laura Wheeler, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. The Endowment is, however, a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. It is devoted to the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment supports a wide variety of efforts to enhance the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. Funding is provided also to help identify, recruit, call and nurture into Christian ministry a new generation of talented pastors. The Endowment also funds projects designed to promote informed dialogue about religion in American life, generate new knowledge, communicate fresh insights, and renew and sustain vital institutions of American Christianity

About the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology
The McAfee School of Theology was established in 1996. Located in Atlanta on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus, the School of Theology offers programs leading to the degrees Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry. The School of Theology also offers several joint programs: an M.Div.-Master of Business Administration, an M.Div.-Master of Science in Counseling and an M.Div.-Master of Arts in Church Music through the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Church Music Studies, a collaborative program between the School of Theology and the Townsend School of Music in Macon. For more information, visit

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit