Preaching Foundation delivers to Canadian deacons

Episcopal Preaching Foundation
Posted Feb 28, 2024

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Last weekend, February 23-25 the Episcopal Preaching Foundation (EPF) delivered the first all-weekend preaching intensive sponsored by Anglican Deacons Canada. Attended via Zoom by 39 deacons and lay preachers spanning 5.5 time zones (Newfoundland is a half-hour ahead of Atlantic Time) the participants heard talks by a notable faculty of preachers and teachers, interspersed with participation in small preaching feedback groups led by an EPF trained moderator. The weekend’s program was introduced by Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada who emphasized the unique mission of the diaconate to bring the Church to the world, and the world to the Church, and encouraged deacons to preach with confidence from that unique position.

The five plenary sessions each addressed an area of real-world concern to the deacon preachers:

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Smith gave the opening talk Exegeting and Planning Your Sermon, which established a common baseline of practice for the participants.

The Rev. Christian Harvey, Deacon in the Diocese of Toronto and a social justice leader in the City of Peterborough broke down the reasons why storytelling in preaching is perhaps the most powerful communication model of all, with examples that left no room for debate. Since a large part of scripture is already storytelling, he cautioned the preacher against turning a good story into a lecture from the pulpit.

The Rev. Dr. Micah T. Jackson, President of Bexley Seabury seminary and a homiletician by avocation delivered a challenging and fruitful workshop on Instant Preaching. In the practicum each participant was given ten minutes to write a three-minute sermon on a specific assigned to them on the spot.

The Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia Sweeney created a timely roadmap for Preaching Holy Week, admonishing her listeners above all to remember that preaching the Triduum is only and all about Jesus. The first rule: avoid the temptation to get in the way of the story.

Dr. Ryan Bonfiglio, Prof. of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology gave an illuminating address on The Bible and Poverty, identifying economic justice as one of the leading themes in the New Testament when translation issues are understood. This is contrasted with our modern day tendency to subordinate this leading theme in our formation, to more palatable themes like faith and resurrection.

In a post-conference survey 83% of respondents judged the conference to have been “Extremely Helpful” (the top box score). These verbatim responses to the survey tell their own story:

The tremendous depth of information offered in the plenaries and the very real value of the preaching group

Instant Preaching workshop. The tools give me such reassurance!

It was a lot over 2.5 days but well organized, professional and the lectures and panel were great. I would highly recommend to anyone and would certainly participate in future workshops

The conference was sponsored by Anglican Deacons Canada with funding by the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada.

About the Preaching Foundation: Founded in 1987 the mission of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation is to inspire, form, and equip preachers to propel people on journeys of faith through dynamic preaching in the Episcopal Church, recognizing the foundational role of preaching to energize and build church membership and attendance. The Preaching Foundation delivers tailored curricula and conferences for seminarians, parish clergy, deacons, lay preachers and lay leaders. The organization’s three-year self-study homiletics curriculum supports the formation of future clergy in the 35 dioceses of the Iona Collaborative. For the latest news visit www.preachingfoundation.org.