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Learn About the 2024 Theme!

Academy of Homiletics 2024

“Preaching Builds Bridges”

Leah D. Schade, President

Since 2019, when the Academy of Homiletics’ theme was “Unmasking Homiletical Whiteness,” our guild has made a concerted effort to critically look at the ways in which white hegemony has dictated how preaching is taught and research is conducted among homileticians. As evidenced by our 2022 Wabash-funded self-study of diversity, equity, and inclusion, AOH members have made considerable efforts to be more expansive and inclusive in the teaching of preaching.  At the same time, there are several ways in which we can expand and deepen our efforts toward justice.

The theme for 2024, “Preaching Builds Bridges,” takes up that mantle. This year, we will consider the many and various ways we build bridges, especially to historically underrepresented groups, as we move from the margins to the mainstream and welcome the questions, observations, and recommendations they have for crossing divides and interrogating the structures that undermine inclusivity, access, and representation of different perspectives.

The 2024 Annual Meeting, Dec. 5-7, will be held online in the spirit of building bridges of access and equity.  In-person meetings make attendance difficult for our international members, those who have disabilities, and those who do not have institutional support for the cost of travel and lodging. While many will miss the benefits of meeting in person, the Executive Committee will be taking several steps to foster collegiality, connections, and continuing education throughout the year.

First, we will be introducing an online platform to help the AOH build bridges within our organization. Currently, our guild has no official online site to meet and connect as a professional group.  This new online hub will allow for an innovative way to maintain relationships, improve communications, create affinity groups, arrange for mentoring, set-up mini-courses, and livestream webinars.  Stay tuned for an announcement about this in February or March.

Second, we will be hosting three webinars this year supporting the theme, “Preaching Builds Bridges.”  One will be “Building Bridges within the Multilingual Preaching Classroom.” From our self-study, we learned that many homileticians have students for whom English is not their primary language.  Yet we don’t always know how best to create a pedagogical setting where they feel their gifts are welcome. This webinar will equip our members with ideas, strategies, and practical tips for creating an inclusive classroom for multilingual learners. 

A second webinar will be “Building Homiletical Bridges Alongside Those with Disabilities.” According to our self-study, this is an area that has not received as much attention in the AOH. Yet almost everyone will temporarily or permanently experience disability at some point in their lives, including our students, colleagues, and ourselves.  This panel discussion will help us think about how our pedagogy, research, and preaching itself is impacted by different aspects of disability.

A third webinar will be “Building Homiletical Bridges for Preaching in a Climate-Changed World.”  This event will be sponsored in part by the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion through their Climate Science in Theological Education grant.  This panel discussion will connect faith and science in order to cultivate biblical, theological, and ecological imagination in our classrooms and pulpits as we face the environmental crises that are affecting our students, communities, and Creation.

As we get closer to the annual meeting, we will share more details about the topics we will address, particularly around building bridges with the LGBTQIA+ community and with preachers in non-traditional settings (e.g., itinerant preachers, chaplains, lay preachers, etc.)

In the meantime, as you are engaging in your own research and considering your paper submissions for our workgroups this year, I invite you to think about how “preaching builds bridges.”  Sermons already link the biblical text, theology, and context in organic ways.  As we expand and deepen our work toward diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, we welcome the multiple ways that our members will build bridges through their preaching, teaching, and research.