In 1984, Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Sherman established the Institute through a generous endowment designed to encourage Florida pastors to be the most effective Biblical preachers they could be. It is based on the assumption that every preacher can become a more effective preacher than he or she currently is. The Institute began as an annual event for preachers to hear sermons and lectures from some of the finest preachers from across the nation and around the world. In 2007 the format changed to a more intensive learning experience which focuses on improving the practice of a group of preachers from Florida and Western North Carolina. In addition, the Institute has funded Institutes for both the Methodist Church of Cuba and Haiti.