The Wake Forest University School of Divinity held a dynamic day of preaching on Monday, September 23 in Wait Chapel as it hosted “Sense of Place,” this year’s Elevating Preaching Conference, and the Margaret A. Steelman Lecture.
The Elevating Preaching Conference began in 2009 and was created by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC) to challenge preachers and leaders to become students of good preaching. As a partner divinity school with CBFNC, the School of Divinity was this year’s host. The Margaret A. Steelman Lecture, a special tradition at the school since 1998, was held in conjunction with the preaching conference. This fund to bring prominent speakers to the School of Divinity was provided by Dr. Sanford L. Steelman to honor his wife Margaret, and their passion for advancing scholarship inside and outside the classroom through an investigation of subjects related to Jewish and Christian theology.
This year’s Steelman Lecture speaker was Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke Chapel and associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke University Divinity School. Dean Gail R. O’Day offered Powery a warm welcome and spoke of his rich ecumenical history that includes the Pentecostal and Baptist traditions. During the lecture, Powery spoke of the growing preference of people to refer to themselves as spiritual instead of religious. As a result, it is important that preachers neither abuse nor ignore the spiritual side of preaching. He suggests a musical approach that brings singing and worship to preaching. Powery stated, “singing preaches and preaching sings.”
Powery also preached during the Elevating Preaching Conference, along with two other speakers: Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Associate Professor of Preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, GA) and Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (Atlanta, GA).
Florence, who preached from Numbers 27, encouraged her listeners to have courage with their preaching and say what needs to be said for it will make an impact one way or another. Long spoke of the discouragement of “running out of time,” from John 11, and then turned to the hope that Jesus, the Lord of time, will move even in the last second. In the final preaching session, Powery returned and encouraged a “worship diet,” based on Isaiah 58, in order to examine our hearts and then ultimately serve the greater good.
Each preacher provided encouragement that when one stands up to preach, what is said and how it is said matters. A preacher’s words have the ability to promote inspiration and change for a better tomorrow. Without a doubt, many who walked away from the conference left with a new empowerment and excitement to draft their next sermon, message, or remarks.
|Links of Interest|
|Listen to the conference sermons and Steelman Lecture here.|
|View photos here.|
Pictured above: Luke A. Powery
Media Contact: Mark Batten