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"Rethinking Preaching" Conference 2021: How Has the Pandemic Challenged Preaching?

August 20–21, 2021, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. EDT each day, online

Details and Registration

Conference Description

Though preaching is one of the oldest Christian practices and has been a staple of worship for millennia, it is constantly in the process of change. Indeed, like the proverbial river that cannot be stepped into twice because the flow of the water is constantly remaking it, it is not possible to preach the same sermon twice. This is so because a sermon is made by the hearers and the time and place in which they receive the sermon. Even as preaching changes, it begs to be “rethought,” its habitual practices and status quo assumptions questioned and re-examined, while exploring the ever-new channels being carved by the Word in the midst of our lives.

Presently, a number of diverse topics have gripped preachers in newly urgent ways, such as racism and ecological well-being. Online worship and the use of technology during the pandemic is yet another topic that challenges us to rethink preaching.

The Centre for Religion and Its Contexts (Emmanuel College) and Shining Waters Regional Council (The United Church of Canada) are pleased to invite seasoned and new preachers, students of homiletics, and participants who seek to “rethink preaching” by examining and exploring issues that are directly challenged in the wake of a number of social issues that have intensified during the global COVID moment. Our keynote speakers, Prof. Frank Thomas (Christian Theological Seminary) and Prof. Carolyn Helsel (Austin Theological Seminary), and 10 experienced workshop leaders will help us explore the changing contexts of preaching.

Registration

This year's conference will be held online via Zoom, August 20–21, 2021

Registration Fee

Register Here
Schedule: Friday, August 20, 2021

Time (EDT)

Speaker

Workshop/Talk Description

9–9:30 a.m. 

 

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg
Timothy Eaton Memorial Church Professor of Preaching, Emmanuel College

Rev. Dr. John H. Young
Interim Principal, Emmanuel College

Opening

 

9:30–10:45 a.m.

Prof. Frank Thomas

Keynote Lecture

Pandemic Preaching and the Unmasking of Tribal Gods

Those that have confidence in preaching are often unsure and uncertain as to how and what to preach to a divided and discombobulated church and nation, given the reality and ramifications of systemic oppression, digital church, and the Covid-19 pandemic. These realities offer the preacher the opportunity to preach dangerous sermons that unmask tribal gods and reveal the God of the universe manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

11 a.m.
–12:30 p.m.

 

Session 1 Workshops
(register for one workshop only; these workshops will be offered again in Session 2)

 

 

Prof. Dorcas Gordon

Feminism and Pandemic Preaching

Wisdom for Times of Crisis

Research indicates that COVID-19 has uncovered deep cracks in what is considered “normal.” The result is increased homelessness, unemployment, family violence, and ethical dilemmas. What will the “new normal” look like or value in terms of the economy, ecology, global politics?  Many feel that the world is at a turning point and that wisdom and action is urgently needed. Research also shows that the pandemic has impacted women more than their male counterparts. Not only is there anxiety about the “new normal” there is also heightened financial stress in terms of employment and advancement opportunities, increased worry for the safety of their extended family – parents and children, and for the physical and mental health and well-being of their congregational family in a time of restrictions and lockdowns. 

Women who preach experience additional stress as they are called to prepare weekly sermons that affirm hope in the midst of the unknowns, the anxieties and fears of the present pandemic.  What gives us strength for the task?  What wisdom from our sisters, past and present, is available to us in this and other times of crisis?  This workshop will draw on their insight for this unusual and challenging time.

Rev. Hoeun Lee

Technology and Preaching

This workshop will focus on the following topics:

1. Media Literacy: “The Medium is the Message”

2. Representation Matters: “This is Not a Pipe”  

3. The Grammar of Online Liturgical Communication: “The Online World is Our Parish” 

4. Case Study & Discussion: Micro- & Macro-aggression in Online Worship & Preaching 

5. Online Preaching Practice as Anti-Racist Resistance: Tactics to Use New Media Technology in Anti-Racist Preaching  

Prof. Kathy Black

Disability/Illness and Preaching

This workshop will address the impact of preaching (and worship) on persons who live with disabilities exploring biblical and theological perspectives as well as practical issues involving language, exegesis and sermon design. Is our preaching liberative or oppressive for persons with disabilities? As a result of the pandemic, how have the changes to worship and preaching made worship more or less accessible?

Rev. Murray Pruden

Embodied Exegesis and Preaching

Collective Street & Community Theatre– the Act of Storytelling

Collective theatre is a creative & experimental type of active movement through the arts. But most of all, within an Indigenous lens, creates the art of storytelling from a unique community perspective. From this active movement, a collective group displays their stories, images & performance to an audience.  The work & themes created collectively in a group has an impact on others in sociopolitical themes. As activist & leaders we have an opportunity to share our stories through street theatre that influence an unspoken community message with 3 ideals- visibility, simplicity & promotion.

Rev. Dr. David Kim-Cragg

Storytelling and Preaching

We Are the Stories We Preach

This workshop will focus on stories for preaching in different forms. Each participant will be expected to tell a story from the Bible or a story about a story from the Bible.

A story about the leader’s own journey of storytelling will be followed by a reflection on the power of stories to teach theology.  Stories will be examined for how they can stand alone in a worship service or be incorporated into sermons or prayers. Reflection on how storytelling in worship has evolved during the COVID pandemic will also take place.  Participants will be given an opportunity to share their own stories as well. By the end of our time together it is the objective of this workshop that all participants will have gained new insight and perspective on the role of stories in preaching and that each will have shared a story, thereby deepening their experience into the art of storytelling.

12:30–2 p.m. 

Lunch Break

 

     

2–3:30 p.m.

 

Session 2 Workshops
(register for one workshop only)

 

 

Prof. Dorcas Gordon

Feminism and Pandemic Preaching

Wisdom for Times of Crisis

Research indicates that COVID-19 has uncovered deep cracks in what is considered “normal.” The result is increased homelessness, unemployment, family violence, and ethical dilemmas. What will the “new normal” look like or value in terms of the economy, ecology, global politics?  Many feel that the world is at a turning point and that wisdom and action is urgently needed. Research also shows that the pandemic has impacted women more than their male counterparts. Not only is there anxiety about the “new normal” there is also heightened financial stress in terms of employment and advancement opportunities, increased worry for the safety of their extended family – parents and children, and for the physical and mental health and well-being of their congregational family in a time of restrictions and lockdowns. 

Women who preach experience additional stress as they are called to prepare weekly sermons that affirm hope in the midst of the unknowns, the anxieties and fears of the present pandemic.  What gives us strength for the task?  What wisdom from our sisters, past and present, is available to us in this and other times of crisis?  This workshop will draw on their insight for this unusual and challenging time.

Rev. Hoeun Lee

Technology and Preaching

This workshop will focus on the following topics:

1. Media Literacy: “The Medium is the Message”

2. Representation Matters: “This is Not a Pipe”  

3. The Grammar of Online Liturgical Communication: “The Online World is Our Parish” 

4. Case Study & Discussion: Micro- & Macro-aggression in Online Worship & Preaching 

5. Online Preaching Practice as Anti-Racist Resistance: Tactics to Use New Media Technology in Anti-Racist Preaching  

Prof. Kathy Black

Disability/Illness and Preaching

This workshop will address the impact of preaching (and worship) on persons who live with disabilities exploring biblical and theological perspectives as well as practical issues involving language, exegesis and sermon design. Is our preaching liberative or oppressive for persons with disabilities? As a result of the pandemic, how have the changes to worship and preaching made worship more or less accessible?

Rev. Murray Pruden

Embodied Exegesis and Preaching

Collective Street & Community Theatre– the act of Storytelling

Collective theatre is a creative & experimental type of active movement through the arts. But most of all, within a Indigenous lens, creates the art of storytelling from a unique community perspective. From this active movement a collective group displays their stories, images & performance to an audience. The work & themes created collectively in a group has an impact on others in sociopolitical themes. As activist & leaders we have an opportunity to share our stories through street theatre that influence an unspoken community message with 3 ideals- visibility, simplicity & promotion.

Rev. Dr. David Kim-Cragg

Storytelling and Preaching

We are the Stories We Preach

This workshop will focus on stories for preaching in different forms. Each participant will be expected to tell a story from the Bible or a story about a story from the Bible. 

A story about the leader’s own journey of storytelling will be followed by a reflection on the power of stories to teach theology.  Stories will be examined for how they can stand alone in a worship service or be incorporated into sermons or prayers. Reflection on how storytelling in worship has evolved during the COVID pandemic will be also take place. Participants will be given an opportunity to share their own stories as well. By the end of our time together it is the objective of this workshop that all participants will have gained new insight and perspective on the role of stories in preaching and that each will have shared a story, thereby deepening their experience into the art of storytelling.

3:30–5 p.m.

Caucus meeting

 

 

 

Schedule: Saturday, August 21, 2021

Time (EDT)

Speaker

Workshop/Talk Description

9–9:30 a.m. 

 

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg

Opening

 

9:30–10:45

Prof. Carolyn Helsel

Keynote Lecture

Preaching about racism: what does this look like and how do we do it well?

Carolyn Helsel describes the process of preparing sermons that help congregants better understand racism, their own racialized identities, and the response of anti-racism work that comes from a vision of the gospel promise of beloved community.

11 a.m.
–12:30 p.m.

 

Session 3 Workshops
(register for one workshop only; these workshops will be offered again in Session 4)

 

 

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey

Decolonization/Reconciliation and Preaching

Preaching that Interrupts, Provokes and Heals

The Covid-19 Pandemic has wreak havoc all around the world. Beyond the tragic toll on

Human life, the pandemic has also both exposed and escalated systemic inequities; particularly, systemic anti-Black Racism. We are being summoned by the Spirit of God to interrogate our preaching and theological assumptions. To what extent has our preaching been captive, inadvertently or intentionally, to colonizing, racist and privileged assumptions and interpretive proclamation? We will engage theologically with biblical narratives, texts and testimony that join with other ‘initiatives’ to interrupt, provoke and heal.

Prof. Leah Schade

Ecology and Preaching

Creation-Crisis Preaching: Strategies, Tactics, and Text Studies

Preaching “good news” in the face of environmental devastation, the climate crisis, and ecological injustice can feel overwhelming to clergy and congregations alike.

Yet this is precisely the time when Creation-centered sermons are needed to ground ourselves in the magnificence and fragility of the world God has made. Rev. Dr. Leah Schade will introduce a three-fold approach for preaching that addresses environmental justice issues with a particular eye towards congregational context (geography, culture, community, political tensions, economics, etc.).

The goal is to help preachers develop an environmentally-literate approach to preaching that honestly and creatively names the reality of our ecologically-violated world, while emphasizing a hope-filled “eco-resurrection” through Christ’s redemption of Creation. 

Participants will learn to use a “green lens” for interpreting and preaching biblical texts and apply the lens to upcoming lectionary passages.

Rev. Sadekie Lyttle-Forbes

What Makes the Message Stick?

Sticky Sermons 

How often do we have preachers at the end of delivering a message, hear the comment “Good sermon today” or “That was what I needed to hear today.” Often it is said in passing without any opportunity for a deeper discussion about what made the sermon good for this person. One of the central purposes of preaching is to deliver a message that is not simply good for the persons listening in the moment, giving them something they needed to hear, but it should also be sticky enough that it stays with them as an enduring memory that becomes useful as they live out their faith in the world. During this pandemic, I became acutely aware of the need to ensure that sermons are sticky, because our hearers come to worship with the hunger for a word that will help them cope and process their experiences. How do we do that? We will explore some ingredients that used in combination help to give the sermon the stickiness it needs to have a lasting effect on the hearers.

Prof. Ross Bartlett

Lectionary and Preaching

The lectionary has a long history as an aid to faithful reading of scripture. In recent generations, many traditions have begun to employ it as an aid to liturgical and homiletical planning and preparation. This workshop explores the benefits and challenges of the lectionary as a tool for preaching and the ways planning and texts can enrich the community of faith.

Rev. Richard Choe

Preaching without Notes

The workshop will be on ways to prepare, construct, organize, and preach a sermon without notes. There will be a 20-minutes presentation and 70 minutes for the interactive conversation, discussions, and organizing a sermon utilizing resources from your life/ministry contexts. Using visual resources, poetry, and storytelling from your “cultural” contexts will be part of the workshop.

12:30–2 p.m.

Lunch Break

 

     

2–3:30 p.m.

 

Session 4 Workshops
(register for one workshop only)

 

 

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey

Decolonization/Reconciliation and Preaching

Preaching that Interrupts, Provokes and Heals

The Covid-19 Pandemic has wreak havoc all around the world. Beyond the tragic toll on

Human life, the pandemic has also both exposed and escalated systemic inequities; particularly, systemic anti-Black Racism. We are being summoned by the Spirit of God to interrogate our preaching and theological assumptions. To what extent has our preaching been captive, inadvertently or intentionally, to colonizing, racist and privileged assumptions and interpretive proclamation? We will engage theologically with biblical narratives, texts and testimony that join with other ‘initiatives’ to interrupt, provoke and heal.

Prof. Leah Schade

Ecology and Preaching

Creation-Crisis Preaching: Strategies, Tactics, and Text Studies

Preaching “good news” in the face of environmental devastation, the climate crisis, and ecological injustice can feel overwhelming to clergy and congregations alike.  

Yet this is precisely the time when Creation-centered sermons are needed to ground ourselves in the magnificence and fragility of the world God has made. Rev. Dr. Leah Schade will introduce a three-fold approach for preaching that addresses environmental justice issues with a particular eye towards congregational context (geography, culture, community, political tensions, economics, etc.). 

The goal is to help preachers develop an environmentally-literate approach to preaching that honestly and creatively names the reality of our ecologically-violated world, while emphasizing a hope-filled “eco-resurrection” through Christ’s redemption of Creation. 

Participants will learn to use a “green lens” for interpreting and preaching biblical texts and apply the lens to upcoming lectionary passages.

Rev. Sadekie Lyttle-Forbes

What Makes the Message Stick?

Sticky Sermons 

How often do we have preachers at the end of delivering a message, hear the comment “Good sermon today” or “That was what I needed to hear today.” Often it is said in passing without any opportunity for a deeper discussion about what made the sermon good for this person. One of the central purposes of preaching is to deliver a message that is not simply good for the persons listening in the moment, giving them something they needed to hear, but it should also be sticky enough that it stays with them as an enduring memory that becomes useful as they live out their faith in the world. During this pandemic I became acutely aware of the need to ensure that sermons are sticky, because our hearers come to worship with the hunger for a word that will help them cope and process their experiences. How do we do that? We will explore some ingredients that used in combination help to give the sermon the stickiness is needs to have a lasting effect on the hearers.

Prof. Ross Bartlett

Lectionary and Preaching

The lectionary has a long history as an aid to faithful reading of scripture. In recent generations, many traditions have begun to employ it as an aid to liturgical and homiletical planning and preparation. This workshop explores the benefits and challenges of the lectionary as a tool for preaching and the ways planning and texts can enrich the community of faith.

Rev. Richard Choe

Preaching without Notes

The workshop will be on ways to prepare, construct, organize, and preach a sermon without notes. There will be a 20-minutes presentation and 70 minutes for the interactive conversation, discussions, and organizing a sermon utilizing resources from your life/ministry contexts. Using visual resources, poetry, and storytelling from your “cultural” contexts will be part of the workshop.

3:30–5 p.m.

 

Plenary and Closing

 

 

 

Biographies

click on image for biographies