Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Faith Forward Social Innovation

(Annual Bracke Public Lecture on Leadership)

Watch the Full Lecture here:

Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Faith Forward Social Innovation
This year
s Bracke Lecture featured a panel of innovative leaders in building communities, strengthening partnerships, and creating new ways to bring equity and human flourishing to the center of mission and ministry. Our three presenters are leaders in the emerging field of spiritual entrepreneurship: Rabbi Elan Babchuck, Melina Higbee, and the Rev. Darnell Fennell. 

This panel presentation was more than just a discussion; it was a confluence of shared ideas and experiences from each of their work, offering models of spiritual entrepreneurship that can address the challenges inside and outside the church walls. The panelist shared current practices, insights, and best practices to inspire and sustain efforts to create impactful and enduring solutions to the pressing challenges of our time. 


Rabbi Elan Babchuck is a trailblazer in the realm of spiritual innovation. As the Founding Director of The Glean Network, Rabbi Babchuck has dedicated his career to reshaping how spiritual communities engage with the modern world. He co-authors “Picking Up the Pieces: Leadership after Empire” (Fortress, January 2024). His book engages leadership and community-building dynamics in a post-empire society, offering fresh perspectives rooted in sacred texts and spiritual wisdom with examples from a host of contemporary spiritual entrepreneurs.  

Joining in the conversation is Melina Higbee, Dean of the Adese Fellowship, part of the UCC Church Building & Loan Fund. Dean Higbee’s expertise lies in nurturing entrepreneurial talent within faith communities. Her leadership of the Adese Fellowship is marked by a deep commitment to equipping faith leaders with the tools needed for social innovation and human flourishing at the heart of community transformation. 

The Rev. Darnell Fennell, Director of Social Entrepreneurship at the National Benevolent Association (NBA) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is rounding out the panel. Rev. Fennell’s work has been instrumental in integrating entrepreneurial principles into faith-based initiatives, first in Houston and now nationally with the NBA. His approach fosters grassroots community development and encourages new ways for the churches to address issues of equity and access in the spiritual entrepreneurial ecosystem.