Wabash Center Grant for AOH to Study Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in Homiletics

January 23, 2024 – In 2019, the Academy of Homiletics launched a multi-year effort to understand and act upon the ways that whiteness has systematically impacted the research, practice, and teaching of preaching, especially since AOH’s leadership and membership has traditionally privileged white, mainline Protestant voices since its founding.

In May 2022, AOH was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion to study its efforts to deconstruct whiteness and embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in teaching preaching, research, and scholarship.  Lexington Theological Seminary and Union Presbyterian Seminary Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship Richard W. Voelz co-directed the project, “Assessing Pedagogical Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Academy of Homiletics.” The research team was made up of two accountability consultants (Kenyatta Gilbert and HyeRan Kim-Cragg) and four analysts (Kizzy Busch-Boyd, Samantha Gilmore, Larry Morris III, and Wing Yi Wong).

Through both qualitative and quantitative research methods, the team analyzed and assessed how AOH members have emphasized diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching since the academy’s emphasis on “unmasking white preaching” began.

At the December 2022 meeting, the team reported on the survey distributed to members gauging DEI attitudes, intentions, and practices.  At the December 2023 meeting, they reported on the analysis of syllabi submitted by members from before and after 2019 to track changes in pedagogy regarding DEI.  The recordings of the presentations and the PDF of the slides are available below.

“We are grateful to The Wabash Center for its investment in our work to understand the ways that the teaching and learning of preaching among members of the Academy of Homiletics are systematically entangled with whiteness and white supremacy, to analyze what progress we as a guild have made since 2019, and to assess what gaps and obstacles remain,” Voelz said.

“The data we gathered from this study will be useful across a wide cross-section of theological education as well as the Christian church in America,” Schade said. “For example, this grant will equip professors of preaching to either start or further their efforts to decenter whiteness and attend to the reconstruction of preaching that fully embraces diversity in all its forms.”

Voelz and Schade hope that the results of the grant will cause a ripple effect on the wider church, so that preachers will be better equipped to serve their congregations and proclaim the liberating word of the gospel that seeks justice, restoration, and healing from systemic racism.

The Wabash Center seeks to enhance and strengthen education in theology and religion in theological schools, colleges, and universities in the United States and Canada.

2023 Presentation: “Syllabus Analysis Report” (PDF)
2023 Presentation Part 1:
Part One covers:
Overview of project and team members
General stats about collected syllabi project
Demographics of respondents

Changes in DEI pedagogical practices since 2019 and what difference “Unmasking Homiletical Whiteness” has made in pedagogy for AOH members as seen through the syllabi

2023 Presentation Part 2:
Part Two covers:
DEI “grades” of the syllabi
Conclusions and recommendations

2022 Announcement: “Wabash Center Approves AOH Grant to Study Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in Homiletics” (PDF)
2022 Presentation: “Assessing DEI in the AOH, 2022” (video)
2022 Presentation: “Assessing DEI in the AOH, 2022” (PDF of PPT presentation)