Jill Y. Crainshaw

Vice Dean for Faculty Development and Academic Initiatives and Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology

Crainshaw emphasizes in her writing and teaching how Christian worship and leadership arise from and return to human experience. Her newest book, When I in Awesome Wonder: Liturgy Distilled from Everyday Life(The Liturgical Press, September 2017), explores how worship’s sacramental elements such as bread, wine, and water are connected to local fields and farmers, waters and artisans. Crainshaw’s teaching focuses on intersections between religious leadership and sustainability, social justice, and “grounded” human experiences. Crainshaw 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 two student publications, Uncommon Words, Common Worship (Library Partners Press, WFU, 2016) and Words Made Flesh: A Collection of Poems and Prayers for Worship (Library Partners Press, WFU, 2017). Both books feature  student liturgical writing completed as part of a course project.


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

Religious Affiliation

Presbyterian Church (USA), Teaching Elder

Courses Taught

  • Contemplative Theology and Liturgical Practice
  • 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
  • Food, Faith, and Health: Navigating the Intersections in Community


  • When I in Awesome Wonder: Liturgy Distilled from Everyday Life. Liturgical Press, September 2017.
  • “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

  • “Teaching the Sacraments through Profane Religious Experiences,” in Grounding Education in the Environmental Humanities, Lucas Johnston, ed., Routledge, forthcoming, Fall 2018.
  • “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

  • Speaker at “As Creation Groans: Worshiping God on Holy Ground,” Institute of Sacred Music Congregations Project, Yale University, Summer 2018.
  • “Marking Time: Aging, Ritual, and Spirituality,” Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Conference, October 2017.
  • “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.

Select Sermons, Educational Series, and Church Presentations

  • “Cultivating Brave Spaces: Ministry, Leadership and Incarnational Conversations,” Virginia Lutheran Synod Ministerium, Fall 2018.
  • “What She Kneads; What We Need,” Lenten Series Sermon, First Baptist Church, Highland Avenue, March 2018.
  • “Blessing the Waters,” Forsyth County Creek Week, March 2018.
  • “Living between the Verses,” Ordination sermon for Lindsey Altvater Clifton, October 2017.
  • “Everywhere the River Flows,” Trinity Presbyterian Church, January 2017.
  • Speaker, Ein Feste Burg: Musical Celebration of 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Home Moravian Church, Fall 2017.
  • “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.
  • “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 Feels Its Worth,” Sermon for the Annual Academy Liturgy for the North American Academy of Liturgy, San Francisco, CA, January 2011.
  • “Bethlehem Songs in Minor Keys,” Riverside Baptist Church, NY, Palm Sunday, 2010.

Select Honors and Awards

  • Recipient, WFU Office of Sustainability Academics, Research and Engagement Award, 2017-2018.
  • The Seventh Moon Prize recipient, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, for “Biorhythmic Resistance,” July 2017.
  • Recipient, Calvin Institute for Christian Worship grant, 2017-2018.
  • 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


Email: crainsjy@nullwfu.edu

Phone: 336.758.3221

Office: Wingate 303C

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