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 a bridge builder who reaches across theological, geographical, and cultural divides to relate to people and pastors in many different kinds of situations, always bringing people closer to each other and closer to God. I am someone who listens deeply and responds out of a recognition of God’s giftedness in each and every person before me. I am someone who cares widely and looks for ways to be attentive to God’s ever-abundant grace in our midst.