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President's Newsletter

“Preaching Builds Bridges” Spotlight: February 2024

As part of our efforts to focus on this year’s theme, “Preaching Builds Bridges,” we are featuring books, articles, podcasts, and videos throughout the year that speak to some aspect of how preaching builds bridges. This month we feature two books and a podcast. 

A commitment to collaborative preaching is an ideal place from which to build bridges within a congregation.  First introduced by John McClure in 1995, collaborative preaching was an approach that got pastors out of their studies and into conversation with their parishioners. The Roundtable Pulpit: Where Leadership and Preaching Meet (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995) integrated principles of participative dialogue with exegesis by putting preachers with listeners before the sermon to explore the biblical text from their perspectives and experiences.  The roundtable pulpit method entails regular meetings between the preacher and a group of parishioners to discuss the upcoming biblical text for the sermon. Insights derived from these discussions are then adeptly woven into the sermon rhetoric. Ideally, parishioners are not only more invested in the preaching process, but they come to see themselves as collaborators in the sermon. This both broadens and deepens the sermon experience for the preacher and congregation.

Lucy Atkinson Rose built on McClure’s model and expanded the roundtable pulpit to specifically include marginalized voices. Her non-hierarchical approach to preaching in Sharing the Word: Preaching in the Roundtable Church (Westminster John Knox, 1997) insisted that the preacher’s voice is just one among many within the congregation and should not be assumed to have a privileged position with an authoritative and final word on the Bible or social issues.  She envisioned a partnership and cooperation between the preacher, listeners, and those whose voices have been ignored, shunned, silenced, or excluded. Rose saw preaching as an ongoing process of provisional “wagers” that invite the “household of God” into dialogue.

To get your creative juices flowing about how to build bridges to those who have not traditionally been heard, check out the podcast Margins to Mainstream ( or wherever you get your podcasts).  Welsh actor and social activist Michael Sheen introduces 11 new writers from under-represented backgrounds who share their stories, poems, and essays that offer profound and often moving insights.  For example, the episode with Grace Quantock features her narrative non-fiction at the intersection of creative arts, social justice, and marginalized bodies.  The episode with David Clancy shares his reflections on LGBTQIA+ issues as a hairdressing writer.  And Elias Suhail uses his experiences to tell stories that offer a deeper understanding of the multiplicity of Arab identity.  Most episodes are under 15 minutes and can easily be shared with students.  Preachers will find excellent examples of how to use narrative and evocative writing to build bridges with marginalized people and communities.


"Preaching Builds Bridges" Spotlight: January 2024

As part of our efforts to focus on this year’s theme, we will be featuring books, articles, podcasts, and videos throughout the year that speak to some aspect of how preaching building bridges.

This month we feature the festschrift in honor of Dale P. Andrews, Preaching Prophetic Care: Building Bridges to Justice, edited by Phillis-Isabella Sheppard, Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, and Ronald J. Allen (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2018). Dale Andrews was a greatly respected and much-loved figure in the world of preaching and practical theology whose life was tragically cut short by cancer in 2017. His teaching was dedicated to “building bridges among communities that often live across chasms” (xiii). The twenty-nine scholars who contributed chapters to this volume each address some aspect of pastoral care for the community in the prophetic perspective.

As Ron Allen explains, “The editors and contributors envision the book not as a final and comprehensive word but as an initial exploration of issues and possibilities. Although the book was published in 2018, we are still figuring out how to build bridges to justice.”

The book is available on Amazon and at Wipf & Stock.