The Rev. Dr. Kenyatta Gilbert

Preachers tackling tough topics in sermons “don’t always have to get it right” if they “wrestle with it.”

That was one idea that the Rev. Dr. Kenyatta Gilbert, an authority on African American prophetic preaching, shared during a July 7, 2021 talk titled “Preaching Justice and Hope in Turbulent Times.”

The program was part of the ongoing “Equipping Preachers” series hosted by the Synod of the Covenant at 10 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month with scholars from across the country offering insight and suggestions about various homiletic points and preaching themes. The next session is August 4. 

In July, Gilbert offered the idea that preachers don’t always have to get “it” right after a participant in the webinar asked how a preacher can know if they have spent enough time understanding the complex lamentation of people in a “purple” church with a mix of political conservatives and progressives.

“That’s real talk. It’s a good starting place,” Gilbert said.

One way for preachers to engage a congregation, Gilbert told the webinar participants, is to “examine their lives as they understand them.” 

“Many congregants who hear us want the preacher to do too much of the heavy lifting from the pulpit,” Gilbert said. “Some deference has to be afforded to the preacher in that respect. . . I think God trusts us to be good stewards of the Word, the divine mystery itself. We don’t always get it right. We just need to wrestle with it.”

Read more about Gilbert’s presentation in a Presbyterian News Service article posted online July 8, 2021 by Mike Ferguson or click here and scroll down to “Past Offerings” to watch a recording of Gilbert’s program.

Upcoming sessions of the “Equipping Preachers” series include:

  • August 4 – Opening Your Listeners to New Perspectives facilitated by Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick, interim executive of the Synod who holds a doctorate in homiletics from Princeton Theological Seminary. Click below for more details and to register.
  • September 1 – Topic to be determined and facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Anna Carter Florence, homiletics professor at Columbia Seminary.
  • October 6 – The Peoples’ Sermon: Preaching as a Ministry of the Whole Congregation facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Shauna Hannan, homiletics professor at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.
  • November 3 – Exploring the Themes of Advent 2021 facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick.
  • December 1 – From/ To: Preaching that Accords with Covenant and Commission facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Timothy Matthew Siemmons, professor of homiletics and worship at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.