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These online courses have been designed specifically for the Sustaining the Preaching Life program and encourage both independent and group learning.  At the opening virtual retreat, cohorts will choose two courses to take together.  One is taken January 15 – February 5, 2023 and the second is held April 17 – May 8, 2023. Coursework in the online platform is self-paced with deadlines and the course discussions are with your own cohort.  Each course concludes with a live session with the instructor for a question-and-answer session.

Courses offered January 15–February 5, 2023

Course Title: Anti-Semitism and John
InstructorKaroline Lewis
Description: The Gospel of John is consistently cited to justify anti-Semitism. Preachers have a  responsibility to amend these misinterpretations, both for correct understanding of the  language and polemic of John and to counteract discrimination against Jewish persons.  This course will address this misuse of the Gospel of John, the ethics and accountability of the call to preach, and chart a way forward for faithful preaching of the Fourth Gospel.

Course Title:  Shepherding Stories: Share and Honor the Personal Stories from Your Faith Community
Instructor:  Michael Dean Morgan
We are surrounded by moving stories that go unheard. Stories of truth, connection, loss, and faith. The most meaningful stories are often simple, personal, and subtle. “Telling Stories that Matter” is a step-by-step guided exploration into finding and sharing stories that resonate. This is an interactive and hands-on journey where you will sharpen skills, gain insights, and build community.  

This course is not about how to be a storyteller but rather how to take a small idea and turn it into an effective and meaningful narrative. We will discover the possibilities of the stories hidden all around us and highlight the key elements in crafting stories that matter. While most of the course can be completed on your own time, there will be opportunities to connect with your cohort and build skills for storytelling in any environment. We will end with a live on-line session where some of the new stories will be shared.

Course Title:  Promise-Grounded Hope
Instructor:  Sally Brown
Description:  Reflect on the theological assumptions and convictions that guide your preaching. What, at its heart, is “gospel” for you? What is the “news” about what God has done, is doing, and continues to do in the world that you hope listeners are hearing, over time? What does that look like in your local context? With what expectations do you turn to the biblical text? What lens might help preachers see and then re-imagine the everyday world their congregants grapple with every day? Working through these questions together with a cohort of peers will help you better understand your own preaching and learn about the foundational concerns of your cohort members.

Course Title:  The Word Made Fresh
Instructor:  J. P. Kang
Description:  This course engages significant questions for preachers through close readings of Old Testament texts in conversation with contemporary voices. Questions to be explored include: How does translation impact our experiences of Scripture? Which metanarratives are most influential in our proclamation? What does the confession “Christ is LORD” mean for preaching the good news of the Old Testament? Texts will be drawn from Genesis, Isaiah, and the Psalms. Connections to contemporary voices and settings will be suggested, but participants will be invited to find their own.

Courses offered April 17–May 8, 2023

Course Title:  Learning from Diverse Preaching Traditions
Instructor:  Jared Alcántara
Description:  Broaden your preaching horizons through the exploration of three non-majority-culture homiletical traditions.  You and your cohort will discuss the ways that context shapes your preaching.  With video instruction from the instructor and audio clips of sermons, you will explore the role of context in reading and preaching biblical texts. You will also conduct homiletical experiments through various learning activities over the course of each week.

Course Title:  Remember You’re a Sheep: Preaching that Guards and Grows the Flock
Instructor:  Raquel St. Clair Lettsome
Description:  This course explores the use of “sheep” language in Matthew’s Gospel and its  implications for preaching as a sheep rather than a shepherd.  We will  acknowledge the problem of identifying as a “sheep” in our current political climate and reorient our understanding of “sheep” based on Jesus’ use of the word to embrace a  preaching identity as a “sheep” and not a shepherd or a goat. And, we will turn to the preacher’s role as a sheep who (1) ministers to sheep, (2) ministers in the midst of wolves, and (3) has a shepherd. 

Course Title: Preaching from Several Spaces
Instructor:  Kamalesh Stephen
Description: We cannot emphasize enough the importance of context in preaching. The places where we live and serve are diverse in many ways – ethnically, linguistically, religiously etc. The preacher must become cognizant of the diverse nature of their settings and engage their contexts while engaging with the biblical texts for preaching. This module is designed to help pastors and preachers to become aware of the diversity of their contexts in order that their ministry of the Word is faithful to the gospel and fitting to the context.

Course Title:  Preaching in a Purple Church
Instructor:  Patrick Johnson
Description: How do you preach in a purple church? Red vs. blue partisan divides run through the pews of churches both large and small, creating weekly angst for the preacher. The preacher in the purple church carries the stress and tension wanting to follow the text where it leads, or speak to a pressing contemporary issue, but feeling unsure how to avoid falling into the trap of political divisions and partisan echo chambers. In this course, we will unpack what purple church really means, and examine specific strategies and models of preaching for preaching the gospel faithfully in this challenging context.