Lilly Endowment Awards $1.25 Million Grant to Baylor’s Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies

Grant seeks to connect children’s worship scholars and practitioners while creating inclusive resources that support the training of children’s leaders, nurturing of young worshipers

March 29, 2023
Lilly Grant

The Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies was awarded a $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment to support training and resources for teachers of children's church music programs.  

Contact: Shelby Cefaratti-Bertin, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-327-8012
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (March 30, 2023) – Baylor University announced today that its Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies (CCMS) in the School of Music has been awarded a four-year, $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative. This award is the second Lilly grant the Dunn Center has received in recent years and will complement the existing project that began in 2019, focusing on youth worship leadership trainings and resources.

“The grant is yet another milestone for the work of the Dunn Center, and this gift represents an opportunity to support the important work of nurturing children through direct engagement with children and their leaders,” said Randall Bradley, D.M.A., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Music, professor of church music, and director of the CCMS and the church music program at Baylor. “The impact of this gift will result in training for children’s leaders in congregations, equipping students for emerging leadership, supporting and studying activities for children with disabilities and producing two monographs, which will provide much-needed training materials and scholarly research.”

Bradley said the significant impact of this grant, combined with the current Building Bridges to the Future – which is part of Lilly’s Strengthening Congregational Ministries with Youth Initiative – positions Baylor to influence the full scope of the worship development of children and young people from their early years through high school graduation.

Maria Monteiro, Ph.D., lecturer in church music and principal investigator for the initiative at Baylor, said church music faculty and staff will aim to identify and explore ways of nurturing children in worship and prayer beyond the children’s choir model. They also are exploring ways to create resources, plan conferences and promote training to strengthen diverse Christian congregations’ intergenerational corporate worship and prayer practices.

“This project will leave a legacy of a robust collection of resources for children’s church music ministries, which will be available to project participants, music and ministry leaders, congregations at large, attendees of the Alleluia conference and church music students emerging from the CCMS program who will shape young worshipers for years to come,” Monteiro said.

Through the unprecedented resources entrusted to the CCMS by Lilly Endowment, Baylor researchers will be able to complete a longitudinal study that will help understand the impact youth choral programs have on the development of character, faith and toward building community among children and young adolescents, said Gary Mortenson, D.M.A., dean of the Baylor School of Music.

“This is important work that will yield information, data and outcomes throughout the extended period of study it has facilitated,” Mortenson said. “Baylor University, the School of Music and the Church Music Program are set up to do this research in depth and with rigor. I know that Dr. Randall Bradley, as the visionary director of the Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies, and Dr. Maria Montiero, as the principal investigator on the grant, will oversee this generous grant with attention to detail and integrity.”

The Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies in the Baylor School of Music provides leadership in all aspects of Christian music. As a preeminent Christian music center, CCMS encourages church musicians to cultivate their God-given potential and endeavor to provide resources for their continued personal development. The School of Music offers two doctoral programs: a Ph.D. in church music, which fosters the highest levels of knowledge and skill in the practice of church music and in research, and a D.M.A. for students who desire to have a strong performance component along with their studies in church music.


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.


Celebrating more than 100 years of musical excellence, the Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance, music education and academic majors, as well as doctoral degrees in church music. Degrees leading to the Bachelor of Music Education conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Visit the Baylor School of Music website to learn more.