The Episcopal Preaching Foundation’s Lay Preacher Training Initiative (LPTI) celebrated its first cohort of newly trained lay preachers November 10th and 11th in a weekend of worship, learning, and fellowship at the National Cathedral.
Friends and family members of lay preachers from across the country joined in a commissioning service in the Bethlehem Chapel, where Bishop Phyllis Spiegel of Utah inquired of each candidate: “Do you believe that God has called you to the ministry of preaching for which you are to be commissioned?” Answering in the affirmative, the candidates then made their commitments to pray daily, continue to study the Scriptures, participate in worship, share Holy Communion, give obedience to their bishop, and daily seek strength and guidance from the Holy Spirit in all things. Each candidate will now be recommended by their diocesan trainers for formal licensing as lay preachers. The 30-strong Class of 2023 represented the six dioceses participating in the LPTI pilot program: Central Gulf Coast, East Tennessee, Lexington, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Nebraska.
The service was the centerpiece of a two-day commissioning program hosted at the newly renovated Virginia Mae Center at Washington National Cathedral. Speakers included Bishop Spiegel, The Rev. John Ohmer, Chaplain and Chair of Religion at St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA, and The Rev. Dr. Stephen Smith, National Director of the EPF Lay Preacher Training Initiative, who commented:
“By lifting up these newly minted lay preachers, their dioceses will have the benefit of not only a unique voice within each of their home parishes but also a potential resource to augment preaching rosters across the diocese.”
The demanding Lay Preacher Training combines an extensive curriculum of online self-study, including modules in Bible study, exegesis, sermon structure, and delivery as well as regular face-to-face meetings and preaching groups held in each diocese, all supported by monthly webinars and check-ins for diocesan trainers with EPF Faculty.
The LPTI Curriculum will now be available to all interested dioceses in the Episcopal Church as a one-year program, starting Spring 2024. One of the first groups to begin the training in 2024 will be the 35 dioceses participating in the Iona Collaborative for local formation:
“The Iona Collaborative is excited to support the expansion of this important project throughout our network of 35 dioceses,” said the Rev. Dr. Nandra Perry, Director of the Iona Collaborative of Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, TX. “ The church of the future needs strong lay leaders, and EPF’s curriculum is equipping them to preach the Gospel with confidence and skill.”
Dioceses interested in learning more about the program are invited to attend one of two informational webinars to be held April 9 and April 17, 2024. Details will be posted at www.preachingfoundation.org. Interested dioceses may also email email@example.com to receive email updates.
The curriculum development and pilot program were funded by grants from Trinity Church Wall Street, which will also support the 2024 national LPTI expansion with a $100,000 grant.
About the Episcopal Preaching Foundation
The Episcopal Preaching Foundation encourages excellent preaching in the Episcopal Church. The EPF strongly believes in the foundational role of preaching to energize and build church membership and attendance in today’s challenging environment, as recently documented by Gallup and the Pew Research Center. Founded in 1987, the foundation began its programs in earnest immediately. Since then, more than 2,000 seminarians have passed through its Preaching Excellence Program, including numerous bishops and one presiding bishop. EPF programs embrace practicing parish clergy through the annual conference (“PEP-II”) and ad hoc diocesan and deacons’ conferences.
About Trinity Church Wall Street
Now in its fourth century, Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish of more than 1,200 members that seeks to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live Gospel truths, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities. The parish is guided by its core values: faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. Members come from the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding areas to form a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse congregation. More than 20 worship services are offered every week at its historic sanctuaries, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, the cornerstones of the parish’s community life, worship, and mission, and online at trinitywallstreet.org. The parish welcomes approximately 2 million visitors per year.