Candler will host the Bandy Preaching Conference this spring, a two-day event designed to help pastors and congregants better understand contemporary sociopolitical issues and provide strategies to address them through proclamation.

“Preaching a Relevant Word: Politics, Policy & the People,” will take place March 23-24, featuring an evening keynote address on March 23 by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and architect of the Moral Monday protest movement. The conference continues with workshops, worship, and a closing plenary on March 24. The keynote and conference are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Guests may register for the keynote alone or the full conference. Register here.

Bandy Professor of Preaching Teresa L. Fry Brown says that the conference theme was conceived in response to questions from pastors, seminary students, and congregations across the U.S. regarding the necessity, delivery and efficacy of 21st-century prophetic preaching—questions that Barber is well-suited to address.

“William Barber is an embodied 21st-century Prophet Micah,” Fry Brown says. “He advocates tirelessly for the rights of the poor, the imprisoned, the disenfranchised, and the working class, obliterating social, cultural, religious, and political barriers in society.” 

Barber’s Forward Together Moral Movement gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. These weekly actions drew tens of thousands of North Carolinians and other moral witnesses to the state legislature. More than 1,050 peaceful protesters were arrested, handcuffed and jailed, bringing attention to the actions of the legislature.

A highly sought after speaker, Barber has keynoted hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors. He is known as one of the foremost public theologians of our time, and is regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Nation Magazine. His two most recent books include Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation (Chalice Press, 2014) and The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement (Beacon Press, 2016).

Along with Barber’s keynote, the conference will include worship services with sermons by the Rev. Emily Michelle Ledder 10T 19G of The United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Religion and Race and the Rev. Billy Honor 10T of Atlanta’s Pulse Church, plus a closing plenary with the Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith 04G, associate professor of preaching and ethics at Candler.

Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to attend one of four workshops Friday morning: ministry in a digital age, transformative worship liturgies, using social media to enhance preaching, or the sermon as a liturgical event. Workshops will be led by doctoral students in homiletics, an element Fry Brown believes is necessary for such a forward-looking conference.

“It is imperative that any 21st-century preaching conference include the voices and perspectives of those who will shape the disciplines of homiletics and liturgy over the next decades,” she says.

The conference is made possible through Candler’s Bandy Chair in Preaching. The Bandy Chair was created in 1986 with a gift from Mr. B. Jackson Bandy, and is considered by many to be the premier chair in homiletics in the country.

The full conference schedule is below:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

11:05 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Opening Worship Service
Preacher: The Rev. Emily Michelle Ledder 10T, “When Woke is Not Enough”

7:00 p.m.: Keynote Address
Speaker: The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
A book signing will follow the address.

Friday, March 24, 2017

9:00-10:15 a.m.: Concurrent Preaching Workshops
“The Church in a Digital Age,” Hyemin Na
“Nothing New Under the Sun: Liturgies that Transform,” Nick Peterson
“iHomiletic: Preaching That Clicks,” Dominique Robinson 10T 11T
“Preaching (and) the Liturgy,” Layla Karst

10:30-11:00 a.m.: Closing Plenary
Speaker: The Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith

11:05 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Closing Worship Service
Preacher: The Rev. Billy Honor 10T, “The Curse of a Closed Mouth”

The Bandy Preaching Conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register here.

[Photo by twbuckner/CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]