Many of the young preachers here have studied homiletics and preached many sermons before coming to the festival. Our Central students, Kim and Matt, however, are both relatively new to the art. Actually, strike “relatively.” Matt’s last sermon was 5 years ago and Kimberly’s first sermon was yet to be preached when we signed in last night.
Today, however, they preached like pros. I was inspired, impressed, and really proud. Matt demonstrated skillful exegesis and genuine sensitivity as he tackled the conference theme, “Questions of the Soul,” using the Matthean story of the Canaanite woman. Kimberly rocked her audience using a pencil metaphor to illuminate a 1Corinthians text on how the foolish shame the wise.
No matter how much we might say that this is not a competition and there’s no reason to be anxious, it is not easy to stand up in front of a room full of peers, mentors and a professional critiquer. I am grateful to these two outstanding students for their willingness to give up a holiday and travel to bitterly cold Indianapolis to test and stretch their skill in preaching. When not in the pulpit, I see them befriending and encouraging others.
We have a professional Central exhibit set up with free pens and everything, but our students are the best testimony to the quality and promise of our seminary. Those who feel discouraged about the future of the church should meet Kim and Matt and come to the Festival of Young Preachers.
I am currently in my second year in Brite Divinity School’s Ph.D. program in Pastoral Theology. The program is enriching and challenging, and is allowing me to explore research questions that have deep implications for me both vocationally and personally. Little did I know at the time of my matriculation, Central’s create program was preparing me for this unique experience. The curriculum of create, and the culture of Central, nurtured my deep interests in theological education, and equipped me for meaningful ministerial engagement. Because of create’s focus on praxis and innovative ministry involvement, I found myself uniquely positioned for various levels of engagement with the Church, communities, and the wider global context.