2012 PEP

May 27 – June 1, 2012

The Preaching Excellence Program conference for seminarians held at the Roslyn Center. The conference is already full with over 60 participants. This year, we are “Preaching Paul.”


The faculty this year are Dean Ellen Aitken, McGill University, Dr. Bill Brosend, Episcopal Preaching Foundation, Dr. Paul Holloway, School of Theology, University of the South, Dr. Micah Jackson, Seminary of the Southwest,  Rev. Lucinda Laird, St. Matthew’s Louisville, Dr. Barbara Rossing, University of Chicago, The Very Rev. Joy E. Rogers, St. James Cathedral, Chicago, Rev. Susan Springer, St. John’s Episcopal Church Logan, Utah, The Very Rev. Robert Wright, St. Paul’s Church, Atlanta.  Music will be provided by Andy Barnett of The Theodicy Jazz Collective.

Dr. Gary Shilling, Chairman of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation, will address the conference on May 31st.

Workshops this year:


“Ending Well”

Preachers devote an enormous amount of time to determining the theme and
focus of their sermons, and fashioning an introduction that will capture the attention of their listeners. But what about the sermon’s conclusion? All too often the preacher slides into empty exhortation, stopping, but not concluding. Or worse, the ending is more like a multiple choice quiz, the preacher providing 3 or more conclusions and asking the listener to choose the one that works. This workshop explores strategies for ending the sermon as vividly and concretely as it begins, with exercises to better equip the preacher to do so on a regular basis.


“The Art of Painting with Words”

This workshop will offer preachers hands-on, take-away tools for creating powerful images with words. Participants will learn and practice techniques for mining lectionary readings to craft word-pictures that can help bring Scripture and its exegesis alive-and-kicking for the hearer. The Rev. Susan Springer is a
children’s book author and the author of one adult non-fiction. She has led
preaching groups at The National Episcopal Preaching Conference, and has
been on the faculty at the Preaching Excellence Program (PEP). She serves
on the boards of SPCK/USA and The Episcopal Preaching Foundation. She is
Rector of St John’s in Logan, Utah.


“We preach Jesus Christ

The Christian sermon is to speak of God’s activity in the birth, life, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This workshop hopes to increase in the participant sensitivity, clarity, authority and boldness to speak of God in Jesus Christ on Sunday morning and beyond. We will examine the amount and quality of God content in our sermons and the sermons of renowned preachers. Particular attention will be given to the person of the Trinity most present or most absent in modern preaching. The Very Rev. Rob Wright has been the Rector of St. Paul’s Atlanta for the last ten years. Formerly, he was the Canon Pastor and Vicar of the congregation of St. Saviour at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Rob is a candidate to be the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta.

“Preaching week after week after week after week:  Community, Identity and Mission”

“When I speak about preaching . . ., I am speaking of the cumulative effect of preaching Sunday after Sunday, year after year, to a  congregation that is relatively stable . . . It is this cumulative effect that is so important, yet preaching is so often thought of as the preparation of discrete sermons, each an occasion in itself. Even when this is the preaching philosophy of the preacher, a cumulative effect will be present.  The preacher’s theology will, over the years, become manifest to the congregation and may even be adopted by a number of parishioners as a way to make sense out of their existence.  Or it may turn out that the preacher has no theology at all, just an overlay of theological clichés to give the odor of sanctity to a simple empirical view of life.” John Snow, The Impossible Vocation (Cambridge: Cowley Publications, 1988), 75.

“Preaching as Performance”

Or is “performance” a dirty word? It is if your performance is about yourself as star. It’s not if you are using every tool you have to proclaim the Word of God. You can read good sermons. But your congregation will be hearing and seeing you, not reading. You have prepared your words. Your voice and your body are your tools for delivery and communication. At a bare minimum, they should not get in the way. We will work with vocal and physical techniques and practice delivery. Please bring a short homily or one page from a longer sermon to work with.

“Preaching New Creation: A Vision for the Kingdom of God as Ecological Renewal”

 How do preachers address creation’s groaning without depressing the listener? How do we preach Paul’s radical vision of hope for our future in the face of urgent ecological crises? Drawing on lectionary texts and new resources on Paul’s narrative theology (“Greening Paul” by David Horrell and the Exeter Project) we will explore ways to preach the kingdom of God as a narrative of renewal for all creation, through biblical themes of food justice, hospitality, and sustainability. Barbara Rossing advises the Environmental Ministry Emphasis at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago where she co-teaches a course on “Preaching the Gospel of John: Abundant Life as Renewal for Creation.” She led the Lutheran World Federation’s delegation to United Nations Climate summits in Copenhagen and Cancun and continues to work on themes of Apocalypse and ecology.

“Instant Preaching”

Maybe it’s a Wednesday noon Eucharist for a 19th Century bishop you’ve never heard of. Maybe the scheduled preacher has called in sick. Maybe you had three deaths, a wedding, and a vestry meeting already that week. In any case, you don’t have as much time as you’d like to prepare your sermon, yet people will still expect to hear a word from the Lord. This workshop will present some simple techniques for composing effective sermons quickly and clearly. Finally, everyone in the class will prepare and give a sermon with very limited preparation time. After this, you’ll know you can do it.