Festival of Homiletics 2020

Recent readings in ecological justice led me by a circuitous route to an online conference, sponsored by Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Called the Festival of Homiletics, the conference each year brings together teachers, preachers, and pastors from denominational and non-denominational churches across the country. This year’s theme is “Preaching a New Earth: Climate and Creation.” Each day this week from noon until about 3:30 pm, I was glued to my computer screen. Recordings of the sessions will be available in a few weeks.

The online format was a challenging experiment for the conference planners, but by the second day, most of the technical difficulties had been worked out. It made me realize that if I am thinking about online teaching, I will have to get up to speed with current communication technologies. It’s requires a little more than Facetime on our phones!

This was a most amazing experience for me in that I met (online) preachers, teachers, and spiritual writers whom I had never encountered before. The sermons were moving and the lectures were informative. What I would like to do here is introduce a few of the ones that I found most inspiring. You can find videos of all of them preaching or teaching by googling their names followed by “videos”. Katie Hays has audio podcasts of some of her sermons. (I am writing this before I have met any of the Friday presenters.)


Rev. Traci Blackmon, Senior Pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ, Florissant, Missouri

She preached on Luke 13:10-17.



Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago

“Living with the Certainty of Uncertainty” (Luke 24:13-31)




Rev. Dr. Joy J. Moore, Associate Professor of Biblical Preaching, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

“Breathless Anticipation” (Romans 8:18-22)




Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, Kentucky

She was interviewed by Dr. Karoline M. Lewis of Luther Seminary.



Rev. Dr. Katie Hays, Lead Evangelist, Galileo Church, Fort Worth, Texas

“Is It True? Does It Matter? Preaching That Saves Lives”



Rev. Lenny Duncan, Mission Developer Pastor, Messiah Lutheran Church, Vancouver, Washington

“Awaiting the God Who Answers” (Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4)



Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Christian writer and preacher, Durham, North Carolina

He was interviewed by Dr. Karoline M. Lewis of Luther Seminary.



Each of the presenters highlighted the necessity to rethink our sermons and ways of “being church” in light of the new social reality of our lives. I hope you will look for their video presentations in the coming weeks.

Note. Until yesterday’s post, all the photographs at this site have been my own. These, like yesterday’s have been taken from the Internet. I hope the photographs are in the public domain!


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