Preaching God in an Upside-Down World

Episcopal Preaching Foundation
Posted Apr 4, 2022

The Rev. Kim Jackson, Georgia State Senator

Last week the Diocese of Washington, DC presented a preaching conference in collaboration with the Episcopal Preaching Foundation offering timely resources for Holy Week. Three keynote addresses offered insights for preaching across today’s deeply polarized cultural divide, fresh approaches to scriptural interpretation for preaching Luke’s gospel this season, and an upbeat look at the opportunities (“God is doing a new thing”) that for intrepid clergy leaders promise to offset the challenges of preaching in our new hybrid world.

Planned as a professional development event for DC clergy, the Zoom tent was opened beyond the Diocese to include participants from as far away as Oregon and Chicago.

With a welcome by Bishop Marianne Budde, the conference keynote was delivered by The Rev. Kim Jackson, Georgia State Senator and a leader in pastoral outreach to the unhoused of downtown Atlanta. Drawing on lessons learned from her parishioners who sleep outside on the streets of Atlanta, and from key moments while serving as a State Legislator, Kim spoke about the preacher’s responsibility to find good news in the midst of hardship, struggle, and discord, with some poignant illustrations from her own ministry.

In his keynote on Wednesday, Dr. Wesley Allen, Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins SMU Seminary offered scriptural insights into Luke’s gospel. Central to Luke’s theology, and especially his understanding of the resurrection, is a salvation of reversal. Dr. Allen discussed how Luke unfolds this view of salvation and how one can use this focus to preach through Luke in Easter and Ordinary Time.

In the third keynote The Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa, FL invited participants to perceive the “New thing” that God is doing in the new ways we can preach and share the message of God’s love  so that our congregations can face the future with encouragement, creativity, and hope.

Good preaching is at the heart of strengthening the life and ministry of a congregation and this recent preaching conference has provided many gifts in assisting our preachers to proclaim the reversal that comes with the Kingdom of God in this upcoming Easter season – Canon Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery, Canon for Congregational Vitality, Diocese of Washington.

A mid-conference panel discussion Led by The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, Ph.D., DC Chapter President, Union of Black Episcopalians, underscored the imperative of bringing our authentic self to the pulpit (“Don’t leave home without it”.) Moderated by Dr. Fisher-Steward, four panelists discussed how, with the lectionary guiding our preaching choices and an unsettled world challenging every effort to craft a credible message of hope, the preacher’s most important friend is her authentic self.

s to recordings of the main sessions will be available through the Diocese of Washington, DC. Email for details.

About the Episcopal Preaching Foundation

The Episcopal Preaching Foundation encourages excellent preaching in the Episcopal Church. The EPF strongly believes in the foundational role of preaching to energize and build church membership and attendance in today’s challenging environment, as recently documented by Gallup and the Pew Research Center. Founded in 1987, the foundation began its programs in earnest immediately. Since then, more than 1,800 seminarians have passed through its Preaching Excellence Program, including numerous bishops and one presiding bishop. More recently, the EPF has expanded programming to embrace practicing parish clergy through the annual conference (“PEP-II”) and ad hoc diocesan and deacons’ conferences. A new EPF lay preacher training program funded by a grant from Trinity Church Wall Street will be introduced in six pilot dioceses in second half 2021. In the role of technology partner, Bexley Seabury provides technical support and expertise for the EPF’s current calendar of Zoom-based conferences.


EPF Peter Wild,

Diocese of Washington: