Jill Y. Crainshaw

Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology

BA, Wake Forest; MDiv, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; PhD, Union Theological Seminary/ Presbyterian School of Christian Education

Crainshaw emphasizes in her writing and teaching how Christian worship and leadership arise from and return to human experience. Her current research includes visiting local bakeries, wineries, and community gardens to gain a deeper understanding of how worship’s sacramental elements are connected to local fields and farmers, waters and artisans. This research is the subject of a forthcoming book, Savoring Places, Saving Graces: Liturgy Distilled from Everyday Life (The Liturgical Press)Crainshaw’s teaching focuses on intersections between religious leadership and sustainability, social justice, and “grounded” human experiences. Crainshaw is the program director for the School of Divinity’s clergy leadership program, Clergy Making a Place: Early Career Pastors as Generative Community Leaders, funded through the Lilly Endowment, Inc. She is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Crainshaw is a regular contributor to Patheos’ Unfundamentalist Christians and The New Verse News, an online publisher of “politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues.” Crainshaw recently edited Uncommon Words, Common Worship (Library Partners Press, WFU), a book featuring student liturgical writing completed as part of a course project.

Religious Affiliation

Presbyterian Church (USA), Teaching Elder

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Preaching and Worship
  • Healthy Boundaries for Clergy
  • Worship as Spiritual Practice
  • Sacraments and Ordinances: History, Theology, Practice
  • Theology and Disability
  • Roots and Branches: Eco-Judaism in Context
  • Children in Worship
  • Preaching, Worship, and the Care of Souls: Funerals, Weddings, and Other Pastoral Rites
  • Preaching and Worship in Sacred Time


  • Savoring Places; Saving Graces: Liturgy Distilled from Everyday Life. Liturgical Press, forthcoming.
  • “They Spin with Their Hands”; “They Open Their Hands to the Needy”: Women’s Ordination Liturgies Shaping Priestly Communities. Order of St. Luke Press, 2015.
  • Encyclopedia of Religious Controversies in the United States. ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2012.
  • Wisdom’s Dwelling Place: Shaping a Wisdom-based Liturgical Spirituality. Order of St. Luke Press, January 2010.
  • Keep the Call: Leading the Congregation without Losing Your Soul. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007.
  • Wise and Discerning Hearts: An Introduction to Wisdom Liturgical Theology.  Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2000.

Select Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Book Reviews

  • “Marking Time: Aging, Ritual, and Spirituality,” Call to Worship (forthcoming)
  • “O Taste and See: Daily Prayer as Wise, Savoring, and Saving Work,” Call to Worship (Winter 2014).
  • “The Work of the People: Connecting Worship, Cosmology, and Social Justice.” Call to Worship (Fall 2011).
  • “Wording Wisdom: The Wise, Strange, and Holy Work of Worship.” Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy (Summer 2010).

Select Poetry and Flash Fiction Publications

Select Academic Lectures

  • “We Never Made It to ‘Thank you,’: Reflections on Community Engagement, Faith, and Health,” Faith and Health Summit, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, North Carolina Council of Churches, Fall 2014.
  • “‘She Unnames Them’: Reflections on a Place-based Liturgical Theology,” North American Academy of Liturgy, Feminist Seminar Presentation, January 2014.
  • “Table and Font: A Liturgical Theologian’s Perspective,” North American Academy of Liturgy, Lutheran-Reformed Pre-Conference, January 2014.
  • “Wisdom’s Dwelling Place: Perspectives on 21st Century Liturgical Theology,” Fuller Theological Seminary, October 2011.
  • “Weaving a Theological Tapestry of Care: Theological Reflection and the Work of the Counselor,” North Carolina CareNet, Annual Meeting, Fall 2011.
  • “The Gifts and Dangers of Water: Baptism in Christian Traditions,” Rector’s Forum, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, NC, Fall 2011.
  • “At Home in the Role of Wanderer: Congregations Responding to the Challenges and Opportunities within the Immigration Debate,” North Carolina Council of Churches, October 2011.
  • “Wisdom Work: Wise and Strange Women Shaping Our Worship,” New Horizons Lecture, Wake Forest University, April 2010.
  • “Wording Wisdom: The Wise, Strange, and Holy Work of Worship,” Vice-Presidential Address, North American Academy of Liturgy, January 2010.

Select Sermons, Educational Series, and Church Presentations

  • “Savoring Places; Saving Graces,” Moravian Southern Province Leadership Conference, April 2016.
  • “Marking Time: Aging, Ritual, and Spirituality,” Wake Forest University “Aging Reimagined” Symposium, April 2016.
  • Designed and presented opening liturgy for Feminist Seminar, North American Academy of Liturgy, January 2015.
  • Designed and presented “Eating Well” liturgy for North Carolina Council of Churches “Eating Well” summit, April 2014.
  • “Sisyphus, the Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Master of Divinity Class of 2011,” Wake Forest University School of Divinity Hooding Ceremony Address, May 2011.
  • “Till the Soul Fills Its Worth,” Sermon for the Annual Academy Liturgy for the North American Academy of Liturgy, San Francisco, CA, January 2011.
  • “Bearing Witness, Birthing Hope,” Wake Forest University School of Divinity Commencement Address, May 2010.
  • “Bethlehem Songs in Minor Keys,” Riverside Baptist Church, NY, Palm Sunday, 2010.

Select Honors and Awards

  • Recipient, WFU Teaching Innovation Award, 2015
  • Recipient, Summer Grant for Exploration of Technology Enhancing Teaching, Learning, Research, Scholarly, and/or Creative Work, 2015
  • WFU Magnolias Project Participant, 2015 (integrating issues of sustainability in teaching and learning)
  • Recipient, Religion NC Colloquium Grant: Project Title: “From Living Water to Running Water: A History of Baptistery Art in North Carolina”

Professional Affiliations

  • North American Academy of Liturgy
  • Committee on Ministry, Salem Presbytery