The Anna & Ernest J. Moench Center for Church Leadership

Enriching church leaders to impact communities with imagination.

The Anna & Ernest J. Moench Center for Church Leadership grows out of a long history of Belmont University’s commitment to the local church. Founded in 1992 with generous gifts by Anna and Ernest J. Moench, the Moench Center for Church Leadership has long worked to equip church leaders for more effective ministry in local churches. 

Early leadership of the Moench Center was provided by its founder, Lloyd Elder, and his associate, Joyce Byrd. His SkillTrack curriculum provided leadership curriculum for church leaders focusing on conflict resolution, stress management, time management, and servant leadership with regular seminars held among churches. Elder’s work richly supported hundreds of Baptist Churches throughout Middle Tennessee.

Over time, as Belmont University moved to a more ecumenical identity, the Moench Center continued to provide training opportunities for church leaders and access to pastors and other leaders supporting the work of the church with retreats, seminars, and conferences. 

In 2015, the Moench Center for Church Leadership partnered with The Center for Healthy Churches to extend its work focusing on leadership development and church health. In 2019, this partnership resulted in an opportunity to apply for a Thriving Congregations grant from the Lilly Foundation and in the Fall of 2019, Belmont University received a $1,000,000 five-year grant to work with 18 local churches in the Nashville area to develop thriving congregational cultures. Project Thrive is the work of the Moench Center for Church Leadership, the Reverend Charlie Curb Center for Faith Leadership, and The Center for Healthy Churches. 

The work of the Moench Center for Church Leadership creates opportunities for coaching and spiritual formation for church leaders, imaginative solutions for church leadership, and leadership development through training events and service.

Other partners that reflect the resource and relationship building nature of the Moench Center for Church Leadership are Luke 9:2 Ministries, the Academy of Spiritual Formation, and The Academy of Preachers.

About Darrell Gwaltney


Darrell Gwaltney has served as the dean for the College of Theology and Christian Ministry at Belmont University since 2004. He was named the H. Franklin Paschall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching in 2012. He serves as Executive Director of the Academy of Preachers and the Co-Director of the Lilly Endowment funded Project Thrive

His work as the Director of the Moench Center for Church Leadership finds its roots in his deep love for the local church. His commitment to the Moench Center for Church Leadership comes out of a desire to feed the imagination of church leaders and strengthen them in their work to seek solutions for the challenges of the church today. 

With more than forty years of pastoral and church leadership experience, Darrell, a certified coach with training in church consultation and transitional interims, continues an active ministry with local congregations. Ecumenical in breadth of service, he has a commitment to the local church and its leadership seeking to provide resources and encouragement for healthy and transformative leadership.

He teaches biblical studies, theology, worship and preaching, and church leadership classes in addition to his administrative duties as dean. He loves conversations with people about faith and life as he likes to think deeply and purposefully about how to be best prepared for the work God has called us to do.

He is an avid St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, a lover of books, a pretend coder, gardener, and a big fan of his wife of 39 years, Donna, his daughter Meghan, her husband, Alvaro, and their child, his first grandson, Lucas; his daughter, Jordan; and his son, Trey. He is also glad to tell you stories about his huge Newfoundland dogs, Jasmine and Gino.