NASHVILLE, TN — Dr. Forrest E. Harris, President, American Baptist College, announces that experienced, highly-respected Nashville leader, Phyllis D. K. Hildreth, now heads the College’s new “Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose” (CLMPI) Initiative as the recently-appointed Director of Grants Management and Strategic Partnerships.  “Phyllis Hildreth brings to this distinctive project her rich background, a unique set of skills, spiritual fervor, and passion for social justice leadership,” said Harris.

American Baptist College (ABC) received a five-year, $1.5 million implementation grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. enabling ABC to create an Innovation Hub engaging two cohorts of diverse congregations from across the Southeast.  Under Hildreth’s direction, the initiative launches when 70 congregational representatives gather to participate in an introductory session during ABC’s annual Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series, March 19-21, 2018. Congregations will later be invited to apply for participation in the Innovation Hub.

“American Baptist College continues to be a global source of training for leaders who aspire to have an impact. The result will be increased vitality within diverse congregations, the development of new models for ministry, and an extension of congregational outreach,” said President Harris.

“ABC’s ‘Hub On The Hill’ allows up to 24 congregations to journey together in a five-year process of discerning, defining, and deploying works of calling, living, meaning, and purposefully engaging in ministry. Our cohort-driven, narrative learning-based model takes a three-pronged approach, focusing on (1) leadership; (2) systems design thinking, and (3) the engagement,” said Hildreth.

“Christians will discover and claim God’s calling to lead lives of meaning and purpose.  We will help congregations draw on the wisdom of scripture, theological traditions, and particular opportunities for relevant ministry. Cohorts will examine and engage notions of ‘the call’ and its meaning for the individual, the Church, and for doing justice, loving mercy and serving humbly in community together,” Hildreth added.

Phyllis Hildreth served as associate professor at Lipscomb University, College of Leadership and Public Service.  Other prior experience includes roles as Chief Counsel for Administration, Maryland State Office of the Public Defender; Deputy Secretary, Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice; and first Managing Director, Baltimore Juvenile Justice Center.  She earned a B. A. in biology from Harvard University, a J. D. degree from the University of Maryland, and an M. A. in conflict management from Lipscomb University.  She was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Baltimore School of Law.  During inauguration week activities for her husband, Dr. James E. K. Hildreth (President/CEO, Meharry Medical College) Ms. Hildreth launched the “Falcon Fund,” calling for civic engagement in justice, service, and health.

“We appreciate the continued positive, ongoing relationship between Lilly Endowment, and ABC, a Historically Black College,” Harris concluded. ABC received a $50,000 CLMPI planning grant from the Endowment in early 2017.  Prior grants from Lilly Endowment include a $2 million “Vibrant Ministries: Tools for Sustaining Excellence in Pastoral Ministry” award in 2003 plus a $1 million renewal grant. Both led to the design of a unique project engaging ministry students and ABC’s constituency of working pastors.  A $1 million Lilly grant and a $200,000 renewal grant (2007-2012) supported the creation of the African American Lectionary. Lectionary resources remain available at

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