Before the official start of the spring 2020 semester, Candler’s January term (“J-term”) classes included a four-day intensive program on “Preaching in the Anglican Tradition,” offered in partnership with the Episcopal Preaching Foundation (EPF). The course was led by five instructors with a range of preaching and teaching backgrounds, including the former presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church, the Right Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Fifteen students took the one-credit course, 12 from Candler’s Master of Divinity program and three from the community, who took the course for continuing education credit. Instructor presentations were interwoven with small moderated “sermon groups,” which allowed each participant to receive constructive feedback on their preaching from peers and group leaders.
The course was modeled on the EPF’s annual Preaching Excellence Program (PEP), offered each summer for selected rising seniors in Episcopal seminaries and Anglican Studies programs throughout North America. Participants must be nominated by their deans and homiletics faculty. The goal of the course is to augment and deepen participants’ enthusiasm for preaching in the Anglican tradition, and increase their competence in the methodology of sermon preparation and the art of sermon delivery.
Candler’s Episcopal and Anglican Studies Director Lang Lowrey notes that high-quality preaching has become even more important to congregations as the number of rector positions around the country has dropped with the shrinkage of mainline denominations. “Episcopal seminarians cannot get enough instruction and feedback on preaching. I act as a search consultant for major parishes, and I can say that excellence in preaching is usually the top criteria for rector positions.”
The partnership with the Episcopal Preaching Foundation helps to address this issue, Lowrey says. “Candler has worked in conjunction with the Preaching Excellence Program and their dedicated team of highly qualified and experienced preachers to develop this course. The students were very positive about the experience, and I believe it will have a strong impact on their future preaching.”