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Truth-Telling and Gift-Sharing: Re-Centering Conversation in the Academy of Homiletics

Dear Colleagues in Homiletics,

This summer has been a time of racial reckoning.  The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks as well as the recent passing of civil rights leaders like Rev. C. T. Vivian and Rep. John Lewis have given us all pause.  Some of us have been in this struggle a long time and may have grown weary of losses and injustice.  Others of us, by dint of privilege, may only recently have been moved to repent and start dismantling systems of oppression.  I sense these events have affected us deeply and differently in the Academy of Homiletics.

We as an Academy were fortunate to have emphasized the importance of unmasking and decentering whiteness in our field at our last Annual Meeting in New Brunswick, NJ and Princeton.  We knew even then, however, that much work remained.  The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of the police in particular underlined the cost of letting any default cultural white supremacy continue unchallenged.  We cannot keep going with the status quo.

For this reason, the Executive of the Academy of Homiletics in its June 11, 2020 letter to the membership pledged, among other things, to:

  1. (e)xamine in our time together honestly the ways that we have in the past and continue in the present to maintain systems and practices that privilege whiteness in any form.  We will take time to share this self examination at the annual meeting along with our findings and recommendations for change.

The Executive takes our pledge seriously and has followed up by setting up a series of conversations around "recentering homiletics" and decentering whiteness with leading scholars of color as well as past, present, and future leadership of the Academy of Homiletics.  As the letter's action stipulates, these conversations are for the sake of making "findings and recommendations for change" at the Annual Meeting.  Facilitator Dr. Carolyn Helsel calls these conversations "Truth-telling and Gift-sharing."  We would ask you to be there as we do the work in our different ways.

The first of these Zoom conversations is coming up on Wednesday, August 5 at Noon EDT (11 AM Central, 10 AM Mountain, 9 AM Pacific).  The public announcement is given above and is posted on our Facebook page.  As colleagues, we all hope we can be present in strong numbers beginning August 5 to do the difficult work of making the Academy of Homiletics a place where all of its members can thrive and the wealth of preaching in all of its cultural traditions is respected and valued.  I am convinced this action process will help make us all better teachers and researchers in preaching while holding tightly to our common humanity.  Please join us on 8/5/20 as we get started on this new venture.

As with our online teaching workshop, a Zoom link will be emailed to members on the day of the event.

Blessings,

David Schnasa Jacobsen

President, Academy of Homiletics