Tableaux Summer 2013
from the dean
Tableaux: plural [ta-bloh]: A picturesque group of persons around a common table Out of McAfee’s 500+ graduates, well over 100 of them are pastoring churches and half of our alumni are serving congregations. This remarkable reality reminds me of just how important theological education and pastoral training is. It also reminds me of the important role we at McAfee play in the development of these pastors. The job description of a pastor is like none other. Pastors must be competent in theological inquiry, preaching, pastoral care, Christian ethics, fundraising, organizational development, community enrichment, staff development, teaching, vision-casting, administration and more. Some of these skills can be taught while others are best learned in the field. Together, though, education and practical ministry opportunities are what we at McAfee do best. In the pages to follow, you will be introduced to several of our alumni who serve as pastors. Each of their stories is unique in context but offers an overall window to how God is using McAfee School of Theology in training ministers to help further the kingdom of God on earth. We are proud of each of these stories and many more just like them. Enjoy this issue of Tableaux!
R. Alan Culpepper
contents 4 7 8 10 12 15 17 18 20 22 23 24 26 28 30 31 32 34 36 38 40 41 42 45 47
Life as Pastor
Pastor as Prophet “The World is Too Big for Small Ministers” by Brett Younger Nathan and Carrie Dean Terry Ladd Veronica Anderson-Lewis Pastor as Preacher “Wounded Storytelling” by Barrett Owen Ron Handlon Jane Hull Claypool Preaching Award Winners Susan Rogers Ruth Perkins Lee “Confessions of an Obsessive List Keeper” by Pam Durso Tripp Martin Pastor as Priest “Priest or Preacher?” by Shelly Woodruff Billie Boyd-Cox Sean Smith Marty and Robin Anderson Joe LaGuardia Book Review McAfee Bookshelf 2012-2013 Award Winners Class Notes
On the cover: Graduate Rev. Billie Boyd-Cox baptizes during a service at Macedonia Baptist Church.
Pastoring takes on many forms.
At McAfee, we understand this reality, and we have designed a curriculum to help students nuance their understanding of pastor as prophet, preacher and priest. At differing times, each of these characteristics is needed to effectively minister. Prophets help us look upon the horizon and see the possible in the midst of the mundane. They challenge the status quo by
showing the truth of Godâ€™s love. Preachers give voice to where God is working in the world and help flesh out how God needs humanity to participate. They help people hear the still, small voice speaking love and forgiveness into our hearts. Priests are the hands and feet of Christ offering love, compassion and care to those in need. They do the work of the church and the kingdom. At McAfee, we believe pastors who take on these three characteristics are in tune with the holy. They understand these nuances and are self-aware enough to live into them when necessary. The world needs better prophets, preachers and priests. The world needs pastors.
Prophet â€œIn almost every church there are gentle cowards who think their gentleness offsets their cowardice. It doesnâ€™t. Compassion frequently demands confrontation, as all those twentieth-century movements illustrate. The primary reason I suspect their views failed to prevail is because churches vastly prefer charity, which in no way affects the status quo, to justice, which immediately leads to political confrontation. Fellow pastors, be as pastoral as possible but never surrender ethical initiative.â€? _Wm. Sloane Coffin
The World is too Big for Small Ministers In the early 1900s, China became a republic with a president. The emperor still had hundreds of ladies in waiting, cooks and guards, but he was only a figurehead with no real power. When the last emperor, Pu Yi, realized this power struggle he said, “The forbidden city has become a theater without an audience, so why do the actors remain on stage? It is only to steal the scenery piece by piece.” Ministers are tempted to spend our lives stealing the scenery, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, fiddling while Rome burns and handing out aspirins while the world explodes. Our vision for ministry is too small. We fall for the lies that what matters is that the offering plate is full, that the website looks good, that we attract young families, that the band sounds professional and that the sermon is peppy. We think the purpose of worship is to keep people satisfied, so we sing the same songs, we pray the same prayers and we preach the same trivialities. Our vision for ministry is too small. Our self-esteem is dependent on whether we can increase the crowd for youth movie night from eight to twelve, knowing that we can do it if we just get a bigger flat screen and pretend we don’t know Ted is rated R. We worry that we are going to hurt someone’s feelings. We worry about the mother who thinks her second grader is so smart she needs to be in the third grade Sunday school class. We worry about the senior adult women who say they had 300 for VBS back when they were in charge. We worry that a
blog on why “The Big Bang Theory was never cool” would be too controversial. We debate the church’s wedding policies and wonder if we can take the flag out of the fellowship hall during the reception. We campaign for ten more likes on the church Facebook page and hope the cooks do not see the joke about Wednesday night’s chicken spaghetti. We stay busy trying to look like good ministers. Our ministries end up being too much like Jay Leno, not enough like Chris Rock; too much Taylor Swift, not enough Mumford and Sons; too much suit and tie, not enough spiked, orange hair; too much capitalism, not enough social justice; too much country club, not enough Occupy Wall Street. The house next door is on fire and we are trimming the hedges. The car is about to fly over the cliff and we are changing the radio station. Children have nothing to eat and we are trying to look like good ministers. The early church believed for a time that affluence is a sin against those who are starving. They soon discovered that preaching that message tended to keep wealthy people from joining, so the church does not consider wealth a sin anymore. Our theology has been shaped by the economic preferences of a materialistic society rather than by Jesus. We don’t want to admit that what we have has anything to do with what others don’t have. We don’t want to feel guilty for an expensive car or two televisions or five different kinds of cereal in the pantry. We want to keep buying
things that we don’t need. We don’t want to imagine how we would explain to a hungry child why we don’t share more of what we have. In short, we are tempted to spend our ministries caretaking, rearranging, fiddling, keeping things going and acting like the competition is the Presbyterian church down the street. Our vision for ministry is too small for a world where people are hungry, damaged and lost. How can we be satisfied with maintaining an institution when children starve, hearts break and so many give up? If we are not going big and bold, we are wasting our time, our church’s time and God’s time. God will give us a bigger vision of ministry. Some days we think we just need to be more efficient, effective and successful ministers, but the church has enough ministers who want to be efficient, effective and successful. We need passion, anger and desire. The church does not need any more ministers who want to maintain the church. We need ministers who will poke and prod the church. The church does not need any more reasonable ministers. We need ministers who will set their own hair on fire for what is right. The church has more than enough predictable, conventional, cookie cutter ministers. We need ardent, zealous, fervent, fiery, incensed, inflamed, enraged, obsessive and impassioned ministers. The church does not need any more temple
administrators, Pharisees or Sadducees. We need Amos, John the Baptist, St. Francis, Martin Luther, Lottie Moon, Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmund Tutu, Tony Campolo and Mother Teresa. The church needs ministers who are mad—mad to be saved, mad to save others, mad to save lives and mad to save the world. The church needs ministers who are never bored with the church because they are always pushing, provoking and pointing out that we can be more. God needs outliers, nonconformists, mavericks, dissidents and dissenters. The church has enough people keeping rules. We need exceptions to the rules. On Sunday mornings our sanctuaries start the day as empty boxes. The minister’s job is to be an instrument by which God fills the sanctuary with fury, joy and revolution. The church can be an electric gathering if we believe that what we do makes a difference, that love can be reawakened and that evil can be overcome by living like Christ. We can want what God wants. We can worry about what God worries about. We can push for what God pushes for. Rather than be satisfied with small ministries that support an institution, we can feed God’s children, heal broken hearts and show the lost the way home. We can go beyond the routine and be the ministers God calls us to be. _Brett Younger
Carrie and Nathan Dean Tell us about yourselves and Edgewood Church. My husband Nathan and I are co-pastors at Edgewood Church. We’re located two miles east of downtown Atlanta. Our journey into ministry began with a heart for missions—particularly in faraway places, but the potential of what a local church could do if it invested in and loved its community intrigued us. This intrigue coupled with church building after church building in Atlanta closing its doors or being changed over to a nightclub, restaurant, music venue or trendy condominium led Nathan and me to begin to imagine: What would it look like for a church to be tangible good news for people? What would it take for every person in our neighborhood to know someone at our church loved them? What would a church look like that was designed especially for the outsiders and forgotten ones among us? This was the imp etus for starting Edgewood Church.
What challenges have you faced along the way? We set out to start Edgewood Church almost four years ago. We knew the way ahead would be difficult and messy, but the challenges have proven to be far more intense than we ever imagined. Our first worship service took place at the local middle school. While renting space may seem like an excellent cost-saving plan that promises to help your community of grace stay focused on the “people not the building,” in reality it is an exhaustive drain on everyone’s energy (energy that could be directed towards outsiders) and the church’s money. After six months of packing and unpacking a church every week, we inherited an abandoned building from the Atlanta Metro Baptist Association. Now, two years and a lot of work days later, we have a building that we can share with our community that
Edgewood Church Atlanta, GA
concretely expresses our original dream – we are here to stay. The shear amount of time required to start a church is one of the pieces we underestimated. On any given day, we find ourselves juggling a job description that requires us to be competent in fundraising, administration, pastoring, planning logistics, marketing, community development, community engagement, building renovations and repairs, nurturing relationship and discipleship. Each of these hats can be one person’s full time job, Nathan and I have to wear each of them every day. Another ongoing challenge in church planting is finding effective, appropriate and transformative ways to reach people – particularly when the results are not always visible or quantifiable. Nathan and I have learned the only way to navigate these emotionally-charged moments is to listen for where God is at work around us and try to join God there.
Our scariest, most challenging moments have been when things become difficult on a more personal level. In 2011, two years after we embarked on this crazy adventure and with a two-year-old in tow, we lost our condo and were essentially homeless for the next eight months. We moved four times, each time not knowing where we would land next. But just when we thought we exhausted every source of help in trying to secure a place to live, God worked through real estate agents, bankers and ordinary Christians (from different churches and denominations) to make a way for us to have a home in Edgewood that is a five minute walk from our church! In spite of the difficulties along the way, we have grown more convinced than ever of the powerful presence of Christ in the Church and in this world. In spite of the challenges we’ve faced and will continue to face, the results are breathtaking and worth the sacrifice.
What are some of your favorite moments thus far? As we’ve tried to dream with God about what our church could be, we are amazed to see how God is working among us (and sometimes in spite of us). It is the stories of Jesus breaking in to people’s lives that make every hard moment worth the price. Jane was adamant that church was something she did not want, need or have time for in her life. But one Sunday last summer, she walked into our church. After the service she stopped Nathan and with tears in her eyes said, “Thank you for helping me feel God again.” Malika came to our church when a friend invited her. At the time she had two kids at home and had turned to prostitution in order to keep food on the table and then to drugs to cope with what her life had become. Today, I am happy to report that Malika is one of the fifteen people we’ve baptized. Her life is turning around and she is surrounded by a
community of faith who is there for her when the tough times come. Every Sunday people from all walks of life gather to worship God and learn about how to follow Jesus with their lives. A homeless man finds purpose when he is given the task of making guests feel welcome. A lonely woman finds friendship and a chance to give back as she begins mentoring teenagers. Young people discover that they can be a part of what God is doing around them when they are trained to run the soundboard. These are the stories that make what we do worth it. Though the results we see are sometimes few and far between, these glimpses of God’s good kingdom becoming reality are that pearl of great price, that treasure in the field, that thing we sell everything to have. _Carrie Dean (‘09)
Terry Ladd In April 2009, First Baptist Church East Eighth Street called me as pastor. It is the oldest black, Baptist church in Chattanooga. Since its inception in 1866, it has been a prophetic voice for the city. Actually, in 1952, just before the Civil Rights Movement, FBCE8 narrowed its pastor search down to two candidates: Rev. H.H. Battle and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were serving as associate pastors at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta at the time. The Pastor Search Committee called Battle over King. Soon after this decision was made, King moved to Montgomery, AL. Calling Battle as pastor is when FBCE8 truly solidified itself as the prophetic voice in East Tennessee. But after Battle passed away, the church began a slow decline in number and community outreach. Everyone appeared to lose their fervor to help the community and to be a lasting influence for those in need. I took this storied legacy into consideration when I accepted the call as pastor. I knew it was time for FBCE8 to regain their prominence in the community. I knew we had to move from the parchment to the pavement. I knew we had to help the great people of Chattanooga see how the Word really can become flesh. In short, I knew we needed to be a church who served the underserved. Since April 2009, we have done just that. One of the best outreach ministries is our Laundromat Ministry. We collect and store washing detergent, powder, fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc. and pass them out to families in need. We literally go to differing Laundromats in our neighborhood with our supplies in hand. I know for fact that it is expensive to wash an entire familyâ€™s clothes. I know itâ€™s burdensome to count pennies in order to save enough to wash clothes instead of buying groceries. So, for families trying to make ends meet, we supply everything needed including the money. We then sit with the families and provide company and conversation. On one particular occasion, I remember running into a man at the Laundromat. We got to talking and he
FBC E. Eighth Street Chattanooga, TN
opened up to me and said, “I just got laid off; my wife isn’t working either. We have two kids.” As the conversation progressed, I learned they barely make ends meet. As a matter of fact, he only showed up with 50 cents. He was going to wash his clothes but not dry them. When he realized why our church was there, he broke down in tears and said, “The Lord has sent you to me.” Our church partners with the community nonprofits too. On a weekly basis, we partner with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank to pass out vouchers to homeless families. We give out 50 pound bags of food for $9 (which we flip the bill for). We also connect with Memorial Hospital and prepare food for every family who has someone in the ICU. Chattanooga also has an Area Community Kitchen for homeless families. We collect blankets, clothes, diapers, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. several times a year to keep their shelves stocked for the homeless community. In short, we take seriously the idea of loving our neighbor. Another unique mission we participate in is with Battle Academy, named after former pastor H.H. Battle who was also the first black pastor on the school board. Each year we host an education day inviting the administration and students to a Sunday morning service. We honor them with a monetary donation as well as host a back to school party in which we collect school supplies, backpacks, etc. for the kids in need. Each week we have men in the church who tutor the students in math. Quarterly we send parishioners to read to the elementary students. Finally, each year we provide five Battle Academy families with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to help offset the costs of the holidays. These ministries are all important to us in different ways. Our church sits in a community that is both affluent and critically poor. We, therefore, see our role as helping bridge the gap between the economic disparities as well as being the presence of Christ to both sets of demographics. It’s challenging but extremely rewarding. The best avenue I know to help bridge these demographics is focusing on and preaching about social justice. I
constantly remind my church about Jesus in Luke 4. It’s there that Jesus announces his social ministry campaign as well as unfold his understanding of God’s hope for humankind. I believe social justice and congregational ministry go together. Jesus depicts this again in Luke when arguing that he’s come to bring release to the captives and to bind up the broken hearted. Luke offers a foundation for Jesus’ ministry by declaring a social justice mindset that happens to minister to those who are downtrodden, in prison and in need. This is the impetus and backbone for my role as pastor. These missional activities coupled with the nature and personhood of Jesus Christ has helped grow our church community. We are growing numerically, but we don’t focus on these initiatives for that reason. We do them to impact the community. FBCE8 genuinely cares about social justice. We regularly are trying to understand the mission and message of Christ and what our responsibility is as a church when it comes to influencing the community. We are growing, but I am mostly proud that we are growing spiritually. And I have McAfee to thank for all of this. I am the pastor I am today because of McAfee. For instance, it was in Dr. Larry McSwain’s Leadership class that I first focused my semester-long project on outreach and prison ministries. Dr. Ron Johnson’s Evangelism and Missions course taught me the true nature of what a church should look like within the confines of the community. In other words, churches should not be selfcontained but rather the holistic expression of God’s kingdom. Rev. Charlie Johnson offered a preaching elective focusing on Martin Luther King, Jr. This course offered me a chance to see in more depth how true prophets affect change for the common good. Together Leadership, Missions and Preaching stand out as three crucial ingredients in my seminary crucible, for I use all three of these skills every week of my ministry. _Terry Ladd (‘09)
: s n o s ud
J e Th
Celebrating 200 Years of
Nov e mb e r 1 4 - 1 6 , 2 0 1 3 â€˘ Mc A f e e S c h o o l of T h e o l o g y â€˘ At l a nt a , G A
Molly Marshall Bill Leonard President Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Professor of Baptist Studies and Church History Wake Forest University School of Divinity
Graham Walker Pamela Smoot Professor of Theology and Philosophy McAfee School of Theology
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Southern Illinois University
Save the Date! For more information, and to register, please 11.14-16.2013 visit the event page: http://bit.ly/13B5pzK
Associate Dean & Professor of Missions and World Religions McAfee School of Theology
Executive Coordinator Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
What is one surprisingly difficult part of pastoring? A surprisingly difficult part of my job is dealing with communication barriers. My older members do not like to communicate using cell phones, text message or Facebook. Younger members don’t like excess mail outs. I feel like I have to double back just to get news out.
How did McAfee prepare you for your role as a pastor?
Veronica Anderson-Lewis Pastor Howard Chapel UMC MDiv 2008 What is your favorite part of pastoring? When God uses me to help make a difference in people’s spiritual lives. I’m working in my third church. Within each congregation, I have had the privilege of acquiring mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and many, many children. I see each congregation as an extended family, and I have gotten great advice on everything from cooking, marriage, raising children, praying, faith etc. I truly love participating in the life of the community.
McAfee’s curriculum is intricately designed to help me through the differing roles of pastor. For instance, in Preaching I learned from Peter Rhea Jones to read the Biblical text over in different places. In Church Conflict, taught by Larry McSwain, I learned pastors never solve conflict; instead, they manage it. This lesson has proved invaluable to me over the years. My Ethics class stressed that all ministers should live out of a moral center. In other words, if I don’t want my mother to read about it on the front page of the newspaper, then I should not do it! Last but not least, McAfee taught me that the world needs a prophetic vision and voice that is pastorally-minded to lead churches. I was very grateful for my experience at McAfee, for it helped shape my vision and voice. I now feel adequately prepared to serve as a prophet, preacher and priest.
What quirky thing do you do before preaching? I wash my nasal cavities with saline solution. This is not as quirky as it is critical. Years ago, I suffered through severe bouts of nausea as I was preaching (whooping at the end of my sermon in good Black Church tradition). It turned out that it was a sudden build up of nasal drainage from my nose to my throat. The saline solution (salt and water) clears the passage. Writing about this feels like classic “TMI” (too much information), but I am hoping this will help someone else who has faced this issue but does not have a solution.
What do you wish for your congregation? Good health, love and healing from grief. I also hope they continue a legacy of strength and leadership that will encourage them to seek God for guidance and to learn of his saving grace! _Veronica Anderson-Lewis
Keynote Speaker: Mercer Preaching Consultation www.lilliandaniel.com Registration information online: http://bit.ly/KvJAqe
Preacher “Good preaching is never at people; it’s for people. Good preaching only raises to a conscious level the knowledge inherent in everyone’s experience of life. It tells people what in their heart of hearts they already know, what in the depths of their souls they are only waiting to hear confirmed. In short, just as ears need words so do words need ears; and good preaching needs expectant people, people who yearn for something more, people who know there’s more, if only they could be told where to find it. Good preaching needs people who understand, as the great Russian theologian Berdyaev put it, that once bread is assured, God becomes a hard and inescapable reality, instead of an escape from harsh reality.” _Wm. Sloane Coffin
Wounded Storytelling Confessional preaching helps pastors stop playing the role of authoritarian and start playing the role of wounded storyteller.
In the late 1970s, Baptist pastor, John Claypool, stumbled into a discussion that demanded better attention of homileticians: Should a preacher use personal, confessional narratives in the sermon? For a while the answer from the academy appeared to be a profound, “Yes.” It quickly became another helpful ingredient into the already tasty dish called narrative preaching. But as scholarship progressed, confessional preaching was found to be nothing more than an excessive ingredient that was not essential to the overall recipe. As a matter of fact, narrative preaching has been criticized so heavily by scholars as of late that respectable preachers, or just preachers who pay attention to the latest recipe books on preaching, refuse to cook up their sermons with confession anymore. In short, this sermonic ingredient has had a short shelf life. But I don’t think it should. Despite the criticism claiming confessional preaching to be too self-absorbed, culturally accommodating or superficially anecdotal, I believe there is a place for genuine confession in the preaching event. In 1995, Arthur W. Frank wrote a provocative book titled, The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. He argues that the physical act of telling stories about one’s pain, loss, injury, depression, etc. becomes an avenue for healing. He goes as far to say that it is an ethical responsibility (on the part of the preacher) to provide space for these stories to be told.1 In the close of his first chapter he offers this theological claim: One of our most difficult duties as human beings is to listen to the voices of those who suffer. The voices of the ill are easy to ignore, because these voices are often faltering in tone and mixed in message . . . these voices bespeak conditions of embodiment that most of us would rather forget our own vulnerability to. Listening is hard, but it is also a fundamental moral act; [for when we listen to the other], we listen for ourselves. The moment of witness in the story crystallizes a mutuality of need, when each is for the other.2 In short, Frank believes in the power of story. The physical act of telling it allows the teller and the listener to make a claim on the story and to begin the healing process together. It allows the participants to control the story instead of the story or illness controlling them. But to make this claim, Frank argues the storyteller must learn to reclaim her/his whole “self.”3 This reclaiming takes time and a lot of self-acceptance, but eventually progress wins out and emotional healing occurs. Frank’s image of a wounded storyteller fits well with Claypool’s understanding of pastor walking beside and journeying with congregants. Neither one of them claims an authoritarian position over the “other.” Instead, both argue that the best leadership practice is to walk beside and be a wounded presence for the “other.” Confessional preaching helps make this connection possible. It helps pastors stop playing the role of authoritarian and start playing the role of wounded storyteller. Confessional preaching also aids the spiritual life of the pastor. Henri Nouwen speaks to this issue and to the necessity for pastors to pay close attention to her/his own spiritual life.4 In crafting the confessional sermon, preachers inevitably engage in this critical practice of self-reflection, self-acceptance and selfworth. This, in and of itself, is another critical reason for keeping confessional preaching in the sermonic cupboards. Nouwen explores this issue in further depth in his book Life of the Beloved. He argues the greatest enemy of the spiritual life is self-rejection.5 Self-rejection is caused by an acute neurosis
manifested in the form of insecurity. This insecurity leads to what he calls “human darkness.”6 Human darkness leads to constantly hearing the world say that you are not worth enough. These feelings of self-doubt lead once again to self-rejection, and the process starts all over again. This cycle of despair is only broken when a loud enough voice speaks into the depression and says, “You are my child in whom I am well pleased.” I believe confessional sermons are as close as we get to hearing God say this to us. At times, it is very appropriate for preachers to speak to their own self-rejection, woundedness and frailty, for it allows others to hear God speaking to them in theirs. Another critical argument for the use of confessional preaching comes from Howard Thurman in his book Disciplines of the Spirit. In his chapter on suffering he says, . . . if the person comes to grips with his suffering by bringing to bear upon it all the powers of his mind and spirit, he moves at once into a vast but solitary arena. It is here that he faces the authentic adversary. He looks into the depth of the abyss of life and raises the ultimate question about the meaning of existence. He comes face to face with whatever is his conception of ultimate authority, his God.7 This meeting place between person and God can come with the help of confessional preaching, for it offers a way in which to speak about and freely admit to one’s own suffering – for the preacher and the listener. Confessional preaching usually gets discussed in conversations about theology and practice, but it also carries significant weight when dealing with questions about suffering. The last critical argument I offer comes from another spiritualist named Richard Rohr. He believes that the sacred journey in life is actually an inward journey to the heart. In his book Everything Belongs, Rohr impresses upon the reader an image of a circle. He argues that the majority of people attempt to live their lives on the circumference.8 It is a shallower and showier life living where people can constantly see you. And preachers choose this life because it is less painful. But true spirituality risks turning away from the circumference and traveling into the depths of one’s soul (or heart). This inward journey is necessary for a spiritual life, and confessional preaching is a good way preachers can help take their congregations on it. This inward journey is where we authentically experience God’s righteousness. This inward journey is the same journey Frank, Nouwen, Thurman and Claypool argue for. Confessional preaching, when done right, allows a congregation to move into deeper, more committed relationships with themselves, with one another and with Christ. But remember, confession is one of many ingredients found in the homiletical kitchen. If too much is added, it will ruin the sermon. If not used enough, the sermon will be bland. But the perfect amount of confession is like cooking with salt; the exact amount makes all the difference. _J. Barrett Owen (‘10)
Ron Handlon Several years ago I sat among an assemblage of preachers at the annual Mercer University Preaching Consultation at St. Simon’s eagerly awaiting the keynote address by Dr. John Killinger. Many of us were weary from our Sunday morning services and were hoping Killinger’s words would be the shot in the arm we sorely needed. Finally this prominent preacher, lecturer and author stepped to the pulpit and delivered a sermon that can only be described as admonishing and scolding. Killinger delivered his sermon much like an irate mother would reprimand her wayward child for being too lax in her chores, only that we were the wayward children and our chores consisted of preaching the gospel. Killinger recounted his experience of entering church after church and hearing ho-hum sermons, sermons devoid of life, sermons that forgot that on Sunday’s Christians come to church to encounter the transcendent, wholly other and majestic God. As one might expect, the former heightened expectation in the room quickly became one of depressed egos and deflated spirits. Yet despite our obvious discomfort, the overwhelming consensus in the room was that Killinger was right. Worship at its heart should be about encountering an untamable and absolutely irresistible God. Killinger’s voice was a prophetic word of inspiration for me that evening and it has continued to act as a guiding refrain for my ministry.
Buckhead Baptist Atlanta, GA
Nearly five years ago, I became the senior pastor of Buckhead Baptist Church. My election as senior pastor was seen by many as major shift forward in “growing the church.” It was assumed that I would connect with younger families in the community and in the process revive a dying church back to its place of prominence. Unfortunately, reviving a dying church is a painful process that not only takes time, it also takes a willingness to be made uncomfortable. After all, a church’s revival occurs as a result of encountering God, and if scripture teaches us anything, it teaches that our encounters with God are often unsettling experiences. Over the last five years, our church has earnestly sought to encounter God and to remain open to transition, both in our worship experience and in our interactions with our surrounding community. As such, we have experienced our share of pain. But this pain has led to growth, a growth that has enabled us to become more authentic to who we are in our particular context. Today our church is a diverse and multicultural community, which is a more authentic expression of our North Buckhead context. Our staff is likewise composed of a similar diversity. In 2011, Reverend William Givens, a graduate of McAfee School of Theology, was called as our associate pastor. William is the first black minister our church has known in its eightyseven year history. Pastoring and leading a diverse and multi-cultural church and staff is, at times, an uncomfortable and painful calling, for such a calling seeks to encounter a God that often makes us uncomfortable and even causes us pain. And yet, in typical paradoxical fashion, I have found that it is only when we face moments of unsettling discomfort and pain that we ever encounter places of pleasure and health. And this has been true for us at Buckhead Baptist. Five years in, we are as healthy as we have ever been.
I’m often asked how we went about integrating our church and my response is always the same – such a goal was never our intention. Instead, we simply opened our doors and sought to create an environment where all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender or theological persuasion, felt welcomed and valued. We believed (and still do) that such an environment most closely resembles the kingdom of God. Buckhead Baptist is truly a place that cultivates an atmosphere where black and white, male and female, liberal and conservative work together, play together and love together. A few years ago, we changed our mission statement to read, “To pursue the mission of God by fulfilling the Great Commandment by embodying the Great Commandments.” In other words, we believe God is up to something in our community and our job is to figure out what that something is. This process begins and ends with experiencing God in relationship with one another – in the bonds of a loving community. St. Augustine once described the Triune God as a “society of love,” and I can think of no better descriptor for our congregational and Christian theology. We strive to a diverse society full of love. As exciting and discomforting this journey has been, I feel a certain gratitude to God to have pastored this community of grace through such change. But no matter the level of success we’ve experienced in recent past, people still want to know what is next, what tomorrow holds for us. While there is nothing inherently wrong with asking this question, it can, at times, distract your attention from the now. I am not sure what tomorrow holds for our church (although I am quite hopeful), but I do know where our church is today. Today we are encountering God. Today we are loving without distinction. Today we are dancing to the sweet sound of the divine lure of love. Today we are the church. _Ron Handlon (‘06, ‘13)
Interim Pastor First Christian Church Birmingham, AL
I was an unusual student for McAfee. After coming from a background of church staff ministry for over thirty years, I enrolled with the commitment to follow a new, God-given call to the pastorate. Three years and many late night-study sessions later, I am now the interim pastor at First Christian Church in Birmingham. They are a precious and strong congregation. They
do community missions better than most churches I have seen. They are amazing at organizing as well as desiring to learn from the word of God. My biggest hope is that I can help transition them as they find the right pastor to lead them in the next stage of their history. I am confident with their commitment to community missions and Bible study that they will find just the right person. I would not be where I am today without the help of McAfee. McAfee was vital in my theological training as I learned to shift my focus to the specific work of the pastor. Classes such as Leadership and Mentoring helped greatly with this shift. The Biblical training I received was amazing. I am currently preaching a series on the Sermon on the Mount, and each week I keep pulling out notes from Ethics class to help in sermon preparation. Needless to say, I can cite multiple examples of how McAfee prepared me and prepares others for pastoral ministry. My favorite part of pastoring is the opportunity to invest fully in the lives of the people. I love knowing them personally and being able to celebrate joys and grieve with them in their sorrows. I love being able to preach to people I know. My sermons can be more personal and less general. This personal touch was most clearly seen when sharing communion and imposing ashes on Ash Wednesday. The faces of people I’ve grown to love and the poignancy of the moment were intertwined. Probably the most difficult part of this particular ministry is being an interim. I realize that as an interim I am supposed to be a bit detached from the congregation. My personality makes that hard for me. I find myself wanting to work with the congregation to begin new initiatives and ministries, but I know that is best left for their future pastor. It is in this tension that I lean heavily on passages like Isaiah 40:31. For years I would concentrate on the “mount up with wings like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint” part. But, now I found myself more comforted on the part that speaks to the place of waiting. I am certain God has called me to be a pastor. But, I am also a realist, and I know that finding a church community that will call me will take some time. God has placed, “But those who WAIT on the Lord, will renew their strength” as the part I am to hold onto right now. While I’m waiting, I’m getting stronger. While I’m waiting, I’m growing as a pastor. And for this, God is good. _Jane Hull
C l a y p o o l preaching
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“Let Your No Be Yes” John 21 “When we answer ‘no,’ we find a life we can’t really want. A life of the same old, same old. A life lacking meaning or purpose. A life where we live like someone other than who we were created to be. When we answer ‘yes,’ we find a life we really do want. A life of seeking the kingdom of God. A life with more purpose and meaning than we can imagine. A life of loving God and loving people. A life of following God’s call, listening to the Spirit, being the church and believing in Jesus.”
Rich Havard MDiv ‘14 “I Have Proof” John 20
“And whenever we find ourselves in a storm, we must understand that although God may not take us out of that storm, that doesn’t neglect the fact that God is still God in the storm. Whenever we find ourselves in trouble, whenever we find ourselves in fear, whenever we find ourselves in doubt…we don’t always need proof of what He can do…but just proof of who He is.”
Wesley Thompson MDiv ‘14
Susan Rogers With so many churches in decline, why in the world would we need to start new churches? This is one of the many questions that ran through my mind when the opportunity to plant a church in my home state of Florida presented itself. It took some serious discernment, a few pivotal encounters and some much needed encouragement to convince me to surrender to the idea. Now, looking back over the past few years, I am so thankful for choosing to follow this path of ministry. Planting and now pastoring The Well at Springfield is one of the most daunting yet a most rewarding adventure. It has not only re-invigorated my own faith, it has also led me into a community of Christ followers that are open to being church together in a way that reflects the mission and ministry of Jesus. The first thing I did when accepting this call was identity a particular community and develop a core group of followers. The next step was to formulate a mission statement. One of the core practices we identified early on to guide us in living out our mission was the practice of “re-imagining.” The description of this practice reads: While we respect and seek to follow a rich Christian heritage, we also value our freedom to creatively re-imagine the church in our current context. We are committed to questioning and critiquing our current practices, and are open to God’s guidance into new expressions of church. While most churches are striving to think creatively about ministry, we realized (as we were being formed) that we are called to make
The Well at Springfield Jacksonville, FL
this idea of re-imagining an intentional and ongoing priority in our life together. Re-imagining has played a very big part in my role as planter and pastor. I spend a lot of time listening – listening to what is happening in the neighborhoods, listening to stories, listening to ideas and listening for opportunities. I also spend a lot of time asking questions – questions about why we have done things a particular way, questions about what we need to keep and what has run its course, questions about where we sense God at work and questions about when is the right time and place to worship. Re-imagining has led The Well to affirm some older ways to being church and to experiment with newer ways (new to us anyway!). Our first meeting place was a soul food restaurant in Springfield, a very unlikely place to have church. We met there for Sunday evening potluck dinners for almost eight months before we moved to another location down the street. Eating together, having discussions about life, God, scripture and our dreams for this new church helped us to grow, to learn and to prepare for the road ahead. Around the table, we learned of the community’s need for a place that preserves the best of our Christian heritage and a place that re-imagines the traditions. We began worshipping several months later and decided to take what we learned from the common meal experience and form a place that merged ancient, Christian tradition with cultural innovation. So worship for us is a mixture of old and new. We journey though the church year, invite spoken prayers, share in weekly communion, incorporate discussion and arrange our seats in a way that allow us to see one another. This kind of re-imagining has freed us to become deeply connected to the people and needs of our neighborhood.
I am constantly asking, “What is the good news for these people?” I spend time meeting with other community leaders trying to collaborate, plan projects and share about The Well. This has led to many wonderful friendships as well as helping others see our church as an important and vital part of the neighborhood. It has opened the way for dialogue about how and why we follow the way of Jesus. Pastoring a church that embraces this kind of imagination is an incredible blessing. I have watched God move through new and old practices to offer comfort, hope, acceptance, love and healing. Every now and then, I do still wonder . . . With so many churches in decline, why in the world would we need to start new churches? My response has become this: We need new communities that are free to express the gospel in ways that are deeply connected to how people live today. We need new churches that are free to move with the Spirit as it continues to create, to inspire and to call us into new ways of living out the kingdom of God . In short, this world is still hungry for the beautiful, the true and the good. Re-imagining how The Well can continually adapt to offer this reality to the community is a life worth living and a vocation worth following. I feel immensely blessed and encouraged to pastor such a community. May we (and all churches everywhere) never stop re-imagining how the old and the new can come together to offer authentic and impactful worship for God and God’s people.
_Susan Rogers (‘08)
Ruth Perkins Lee Congregational Services Manager CBF National MDiv 2002
McAfee’s connection to CBF was a deciding factor for me in determining seminaries. I believed McAfee to be a place that would encourage me to live into and out of who God created me to be. And it turned out to be truer than I originally imagined. McAfee showed me the power of being present to another person and how it can be more valuable than words. As I listened to the professors as they recounted their experiences, the mistakes they made and the joys they experienced, I came to find my own voice and calling. I dialogued with other students as we wrestled with theology, our church experiences and questions about the future. I learned that I should never stop learning. When I graduated from McAfee, I entered local church ministry at Auburn First Baptist Church. For over ten years, I served on staff working with students between sixth grade and graduate school. Classroom notes and textbooks became my working library. I used the strengths I had discovered in seminary to their fullest and sought others’ help in the areas that were my weakest. I dialogued with other ministers about best practices, teaching strategies and theological development. I learned the hard way that church work creates isolating environments. Out of personal necessity, I recognized the need for a supportive and encouraging community, and I strove to meet this need through local
clergy women’s group, a CBF sponsored peer learning group, Alabama CBF and National CBF gatherings. As I found community outside the church with my former McAfee classmates and in the larger CBF life, I discovered ways I could serve and give back. I served on the Alabama Coordinating Council for two years before becoming Moderator-Elect and then as the Vice Chair of the 2012 Task Force. In Alabama, I heard the stories of local churches as they ministered to the world. I got to know ministers as they sought the best ways to lead congregations to live out their faith in authentic ways. As Task Force members, we listened to people all over the Fellowship, their hopes and dreams and their disappointments. We discovered a wealth of resources and gifted individuals everywhere. We re-imagined a way CBF could function. Now I get to do this as my work! My job is to live in the day-to-day details of Missional Congregations that enable this aspect of CBF to be efficient and effective. I help give life to the changes recommended by the 2012 Task Force. And I love it. In short, I am grateful to McAfee and CBF. Both helped me realize my love for the church and my need for intentionally seeking community. A large part of who I am today is because of the relationship of these two organizations. I could not be more thankful! _Ruth Perkins Lee
Current is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowshipâ€™s network of young leaders. Connect with us: fb.com/currentcbf twitter.com/currentcbf
of an Obsessive List Keeper: Baptist Women Ministers and Statistics I am a list-maker, sometimes even an obsessive keeper of lists. In 2005, I took on a new list. I began collecting names of all the women I knew who were serving as pastor or co-pastor of Baptist churches. The list began as a result of research that Eileen Campbell-Reed and I were doing for the first State of Women in Baptist Life (http://bit.ly/109fUnT) report that was commissioned by Baptist Women in Ministry, and I was intentional in limiting my list to pastors and co-pastors. While women Baptist
serve in a variety of ministry roles— from chaplain to children’s minister to seminary professor to mission personnel, I knew that I could not track them all. (Gathering statistical information is problematic in Baptist life for most of our denominational organizations and fellowships tend not to keep good record keepers). I have kept this list ever since—faithfully updating it every time a woman is called by a church, deleting names of women who have
retired or moved to a new church position or walked into a new season of life outside ministry. When I started keeping the list in 2005, Eileen and I chose to research women affiliated with four Baptist bodies: the Alliance of Baptists, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We did not add American Baptist women pastors to this list—the ABC-USA keeps excellent records so there was no need to duplicate their good work. (In 2012, ABC-USA had 485 women serving as pastors and co-pastors). When I began my list keeping in 2005, I emailed and made phone calls and discovered that 102 women were pastoring or co-pastoring churches in the four denominational bodies. Eight years earlier, Sarah Frances Anders, who was the longtime list keeper for Baptist women, had found only 85 women serving. So I felt pretty good that the number had grown to 102—until I crunched the numbers and discovered that the percentages of churches was low, really low. The Alliance was the only bright spot in the number crunching—with 22% of its churches being pastored by women. CBF had at best 5.5%, and the percentages of the BGAV (1.1%) and BGCT (.19%) were woefully low.
The next year Eileen and I completed another report (http://bit.ly/13qEDbG), and the overall number of women pastors increased to 117. In 2007, we wrote yet another report (http://bit.ly/11EccUW), and the number fell to 113. Over the next few years, I kept adding to my list and discovered that Facebook makes Baptist statistic keeping so much easier! In 2010, I crunched numbers once again, and Amy Shorner-Johnson and I worked together on another State of Women in Baptist Life report (http://bit.ly/XZSh7k). The list now had 135 names! In August 2012, as I was polishing up a journal article that I have been working on, I updated my list, and much to my surprise, I discovered that the number of women currently serving as pastors and copastors in the Alliance, BGAV, BGCT and CBF now stood at 150. For me, 150 was a milestone number and
helped affirm the â€œfeelingâ€? that I have had in the last year. The overall percentage of churches calling women as pastors is rising. Progress is being made. For the past eight months, the number 150 has held steady. A few women have retired or left their pastoral positions for other ministries, but other women have been called by churches. As of April 2013, of the 150 women, 107 serve are pastors and 43 are co-pastors. While many factors are at play in the increasing numbers of women pastoring churches, one clear contributor is the growing number of female students enrolled in Baptist seminaries. At the fourteen seminaries, schools and Baptist studies programs affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, women make up about 40% of the student population. The female enrollment at these fourteen schools ranges from 23% to 59%, and
Baptist Women in Ministry seeks to be a catalyst in Baptist life, drawing together women and men, in partnership with God, to illuminate, advocate, and nurture the gifts and graces of women. www.bwim.info
Mercer Universityâ€™s McAfee School of Theology at 59% has the highest percentage. McAfee is making a difference for Baptists in educating, preparing and helping to place women called and gifted by God. As much as I like list making and crunching numbers, I often remind myself that this research is more than simply statistics. Each number represents a woman, a woman blessed and affirmed in her calling who is living out that calling every day. I am thankful for those women and the churches they pastor, and I am thankful for all the Baptist women ministers who are doing kingdom work throughout our world. _Pam Durso Pam Durso is the executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry Atlanta, GA.
Pastor Vineville Baptist Church Macon, GA DMin 2011
I confess. Out of all the sermons I have preached, out of all the scripture passages read, there are two that stand out above the rest. My first love is the story of the Last Supper from the Gospels and then recounted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. My second love is the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, especially when he looks out on the crowd and has compassion on everyone involved. These two colossal moments in scripture, these two stories of Jesus breaking bread and eating meals, remind me of who I am and who my church needs to be—we are people who have received the grace of God and who are called to have compassion on others. I love preaching both of these passages to my church family. I love it because they are meal scenes beautifully symbolized with images of bread and cup. And when preached, these passages bring the church in communion with one another and with God. For instance, in the feeding of the five thousand, the compassion of God is handed out to everyone in need—including us. In the Last Supper, Jesus declares that we, the Church, are now receiving the grace of Christ through his body and blood. Gathering as a community of grace around these two tables and these two texts shapes our identity and our calling. We have only to pull up a chair to know who we are and who we are meant to be. To illustrate this point even further, the altar cloth and the tablecloth at Vineville Baptist are woven with the same thread. This detail is important to us, for it symbolizes that both tables are woven with God’s threads of compassion. They are also embroidered with the cross, which is the heart of God’s compassion. When we look at the altar cloth, we see the church as it comes together to profess “Jesus as Lord,” but we also see the five thousand standing in the background hungry and hurting, and we feel the compassion of Jesus as the body of Christ. In short, the grace we receive from God at these two meals becomes the meal we, in turn, offer to others. With the constant busyness and responsibilities of pastoring, it is easy to forget who we are. The work of ministry is surrounded by its own busyness and responsibilities, which are important, but they also hide the impetus behind all we do. As pastor, these two stories and these two meals help me remember who I am and what my ultimate responsibility is to my church—to offer God’s grace and compassion to a world too busy to see it. My hope and prayer is that Vineville Baptist will always remember that our place is at God’s table, that God’s table has room enough for us; for it is at this table we find who we are and how we can live into who God wants us to be, together. _Tripp Martin
“People need priests to stand with them as much as they need prophets to stand over against them. But ‘bear one another’s burdens’ doesn’t mean being a pal to every parishioner, a minster someone once described as a ‘quivering mass of availability.’ What the second century physician Galen said of doctors applies equally to pastors: ‘They heal most successfully in whom the people have the most confidence.’ A successful pastor is one who unveils Jesus’ presence in the everyday lives of ordinary people, someone who can weave sorrow, loss and especially death into our understanding of life.” _Wm. Sloane Coffin
Priest or Preacher? There is a stark contrast between preaching from the inside of a congregation and preaching from the outside as a guest. Experiencing that contrast has illustrated just how much of a gift it is to be a priest.
I think I got it wrong in seminary. Sorry, dearly beloved professors who poured out hours and hours into my education, but I did not leave McAfee with everything figured out. I thought I was learning that the primary task of a pastor is to preach. I thought that I was learning how responsible biblical study, a solid grasp of church history and a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew could make me a better preacher. My years since seminary, however, have taught me that we are not preachers. We are priests. Or at least that is the way it should work. Allow me to explain. I entered my first preaching class at McAfee School of Theology kicking and screaming. I had no desire to take preaching because, after all, I was going to be an academic and not a preacher. Dr. Peter Rhea Jones was oh so kind despite my mixture of obstinance and irrational fear. With his paternal smile and calm voice, he validated my fears while also politely telling me that I had no choice. I must preach. Ever the passive aggressive one and bastion of maturity, I remember choosing the most ridiculous passage I could think of for my first sermon. It is perfectly reasonably to preach on Sodom and Gomorrah for your first seminary sermon, right? I suppose the joke was on me. Through the process of living with the text in such an intentional way, I began to see it from fantastically new angles. I experienced it. As I prepared for the sermon, I toted the text around with me literally and figuratively. I read it in parks and coffee shops. I asked strangers their opinion on it. I prayed it. Yes, I prayed the Sodom and Gomorrah story. (I would not recommend that you introduce this particular spiritual practice to your congregation.) After a while, troubling text was no longer a flat story written on a page. It had shaped itself into a prism that I could pick up, hold up to the light and turn to see new patterns of color being cast on the wall. The resulting sermon was less a theological treatise that I deduced from careful commentary work, formed into well-articulated thoughts and then applied artful rhetoric to so that it might transmit its truth to listening ears, and it was far more a testimony to what I had discovered as I lived in an ancient text. The preaching bug had bitten me. I wanted to continue this kind of discovery and encounter as often as I could. Seminary reinforces the idea that the pastor is the preacher. Our tradition teaches the same. The preacher is the sole figure who is given the responsibility of mining God’s word for a relevant and timely truth, and then crafting words around that truth so that the congregation hears it anew. It is the pastor who has the hard-won skills of education and oratory to make this possible. When I left seminary, I was under the impression that this task of testifying to an encounter with God was the pastor’s primary duty. Church experience, however, taught me that the pastor is a priest. The Hebrew Bible priest sacrifices on behalf of himself and the community, receives offerings from the community, consecrates homes and fields, serves as the resident dermatologist, declares what is clean and unclean and determines the price of fields in Jubilee. Although this might appear vastly different from the role of the pastor, I don’t believe that the tasks of presiding over budget meetings, blessing the Sunday afternoon potluck, holding the hand of a church
member before a surgery or baptizing the gangly twelve year old who just professed Christ are all that far removed from the priest’s vocation. Each task taken up by the priest and by the pastor works together to create a space where God can be encountered. Both the priest and the pastor are concerned with keeping the lines of communication open between God and church member. Both hope that their ministry opens up unexpected places where God can be discovered. Now that I am back in school and no longer on staff at a church, I subsist on pulpit supply and weddings, both of which lack a community to be in a true pastoral relationship with. I am now just a preacher. There is a stark contrast between preaching from the inside of a congregation and preaching from the outside as a guest. Experiencing that contrast has illustrated just how much of a gift it is to be a priest. A preacher focuses on her own encounter with God so that she may tell a congregation all about it during a half hour block on Sundays. Priestly pastors focus on finding ways for as many people as possible to experience God. They equip their congregations to recognize an experience with God and to testify to these encounters whenever and wherever they occur (to borrow the words and inspiration of Anna Carter Florence, Preaching as Testimony). Preaching is then unleashed from the constrictive quarter or half hour that is allotted to a sermon each week. After all, the “preachers” we remember from the Old Testament are not the priests, and those “sermons” did not occur in regularly prescribed moments behind a pulpit. They came from the lips of a sycamore tree farmer turned prophet, a boy with a slingshot who became king, a desperate woman in the temple, a young boy who heard God’s call or a grown man who had lost everything. Somewhere, behind it all, was a priest who was sacrificing, praying, receiving offerings and daring to stand before God so that Israel could experience God’s presence. When the preaching bug bit me as a wee seminary student, I failed to see that the bug had more bite left. Preparing for that sermon showed me how powerful and transformative it can be when you are given a voice after an experience with God. So, I set forth to become a preacher. I wish that I had been able to look past myself all those years ago. I wish I had been able to see the power in teaching others how to recognize their own encounters with God. I wish I had seen the value in equipping others to use their own voice. I wish that I had been able to see each of my ministerial tasks—from sermon delivery to hospital visits to meetings over coffee with teenagers—as opportunities to work behind the scenes, making connections and spaces so that God could be more easily accessed. I wish I had seen just how limited it is to be a preacher and how significant it is to be a priest. _Shelly Woodruff (‘07) ThD Candidate, Duke Divinity School
Billie Boyd-Cox The vote was unanimous. At 10:02 p.m. on September 28, 2012, my life changed in an incredible way. Awaken by the buzzing of my cell phone, I stumbled out of bed to see if the number was recognizable. It was not, but I decided to answer anyway. The voice on the other end said, “Pastor Cox” to which I responded, “speaking.” The callers (there were three of them) were members of the Pastoral Search Committee from Macedonia Baptist Church in Conyers, GA. Macedonia Baptist Church informed me that I had been chosen to lead them as their sixteenth and first female pastor in the church’s 139 year history. Macedonia, like many other small churches, was in significant decline with only 32 active members when I arrived. Roughly 90% of them were retired or close to retirement age. They were convinced God was not done with them and prayerfully sought the Lord for the change necessary for continued survival. I embodied the change they needed. I am not new to ministry; I have been on this journey for 13 years. I’ve served in many churches and in many different roles. The ministerial experience coupled with a solid seminary education is wonderful, but there is nothing that truly prepares you for pastoral responsibility until you walk in the shoes of a pastor. As pastor, each new day brings about new challenges and rewards. The leisurely sermon preparation time of an associate minister is now a distant memory. Sundays seem to come every 48 hours. In the first few months, I questioned myself, and to be honest, I questioned God. Often asking, “If he was sure I was the one?” I wondered if anyone would ever join Macedonia. In December, it was as if flood gates opened people poured in Macedonia. Now when I look around the sanctuary at the once vacant pews, I see new life. Macedonia is growing both spiritually and numerically. God firmly answered my questioning with a resounding, “Yes!” And I have never looked back. In the wee hours of the morning on January 9, I was awakened, once again, to a series of text messages and voicemails that I had missed
Macedonia CBaptist onyers, GA
during the night. After reading the text messages and listening to frantic voicemails, I turned on the television. There it was, “Four children died in a house fire in Conyers.” The faces on the screen were familiar. They were members of Macedonia Baptist Church. The call to lead, serve, shepherd, love, protect and pastor came swiftly. I immediately referred to what Dr. James Hollingsworth taught me in Congregational Ministry at McAfee. I took a moment to check my own Emotional Intelligence (EQ). By EQ, I mean the silent, intangible driver inside each person that beckons you to first acknowledge your own frailties and vulnerabilities as you attempt to navigate your social landscape and make decisions that not only affect your life but also the lives of those around you. Those who know me know I am a lover of great quotes. The one that came to mind that morning was, “Fools Rush In,” which is the title of a 1997 movie starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. Using emotional intelligence, I was reminded that fools rush in but the wise step outside of themselves to survey the landscape. I first needed to be aware of my personal disposition. As a mother, I was horrified. But as pastor, I had to be present and steadfast. Every step was critical and every step was going to carefully watched by both insiders and outsiders. I had never met the mother who was also severely burned in the fire. Did I mention that the children’s grandmother wanted a male pastor and had not accepted me as her pastor? I needed to prepare for my role as crisis manager, if nothing else. The impact of this tragedy would not only trouble this family and community but had the potential to reach far beyond Conyers and Macedonia. My first response was to carefully review the newscast to see which members of Macedonia were present at the scene of the fire the night before. My goal was to show this family I would support them in any way, large or small. Next, I contacted two members who were present at the scene, and I asked if I could accompany them as they visited the family.
The face of the family’s longtime friend and fellow church member arriving at the door with me announcing, “Pastor is here,” opened the doors as well as their broken hearts. If I had come alone announcing, “I’m your pastor,” this may not have occurred. To this day, this experience stands out above the rest as to how I see my role and responsibilities as pastor of Macedonia Baptist. As you read this article, I am preparing for the funeral of Macedonia’s oldest member, Mrs. Corrine Taylor, who passed away at the tender age of 109. I wrestle with the notions of losing Reba’s eighth month old baby in the fire and 109 years in a matter of five months. I received the call of her death as I was driving to service on a Sunday morning which happened to be Mother’s Day of all days. My EQ driver shifted into gear again as I assessed the situation. Determining that this was not something that could wait until church was over; I drove over to the Taylor’s house and sat at the breakfast table with Mrs. Taylor’s daughter as she was preparing funeral arrangements for her mother instead of thinking through the Mother’s Day celebration that was scheduled at their home later that afternoon. The self-awareness facet of EQ helps me to know when to speak and when just to be present. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a mother, so I did not pretend to act as if I had all the answers. I did not have adequate words to say but thankfully none were necessary. What was necessary was a listening ear, a caring hug and a whispered prayer. Those I graciously provided. There are, like the old television series “MASH” says, “In-coming wounded.” Every time the doors of a church open a potential crisis walks in and emotional intelligence is necessary to see it through. If I ever needed more class notes, it would be on Emotional Intelligence and a good dose of crisis management to boot. I’m grateful McAfee provided a place for me to at least get started. _Billie Boyd-Cox (‘13)
Pastor New Horizon Baptist Church Atlanta, GA
I frequently find myself engaged in pastoral conversations that go something like this, “I prayed for God to (fill in the blank), so why didn’t I get (fill in the blank)? I prayed for it!” The underlying sentiment behind that type of question is, “Is something wrong with me or with God?” Theology is how we speak about God. This conversation in contemporary society challenges the church
in new and intriguing ways. In an age where information is instant and obsolescence appears as a perpetual threat, the attempt to stay relevant and connected to the culture is increasingly difficult for the church—especially us pastors. Recently, I read Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. It addresses the issue of who God is to this generation by contrasting one’s relationship with God as a “fan of Jesus” versus one’s relationship with God as a “follower of Jesus.” He describes an unhealthy development in how we speak about God in a growing number of churches. Idleman’s description of what he terms “snuggie theology” begins with the admission that we all love comfort. Most of our energy and labor is devoted to providing more comfort for our lives. Technology is driven by making things easier, faster and more accessible. By nature we are “comfort seekers” not “cross bearers.” Snuggie theology, therefore, is when we try to make everyone as comfortable as possible. For many churches, snuggie theology is a much preferred discussion about God. And because of this reality, pastors preach sermons on how to be happy, successful or an overcomer. Rarely do pastors challenge, defend personal sacrifices or tackle inconvenient expectations of service to God or to others. We should lament that the message of Jesus to his followers of “Come and Die” has been replaced by “Come and Stay that Way.” While reading and reflecting on Idleman’s book, I was reminded of something my mother told me, “You are free to be, but remember you are responsible for what you become.” Thus, the McAfee experience coupled with its triumvirate of “knowing, being and doing” has aided me in providing spiritual roadmaps to help my congregation navigate away from the murky waters of thinking and talking about God while expecting only comfort in return. Instead, I am equipped to offer authentic care and spirituality to a world congregation that needs it. I am grateful to God for McAfee’s multi-racial, multi-cultural and (probably most helpfully) multi-theological environment. My experience there has given me the necessary exposure and tools to lead others with integrity and with fidelity to and through the Christian faith. _Sean Smith
Marty and Robin Anderson Our sign in front of the church reads: All Are Welcome, No Exceptions. We were intrigued by the message and the fact that the search committee seemed open to considering a co-pastorate. During our time at McAfee, we discovered our unique gifts for ministry. We both began to sense that we might be called to pastor, and we wondered if our different ministry styles could complement each other in a co-pastorate the way that our personalities complement each other in our marriage. We served as associate pastors together and determined that we support and balance each other well in ministry. We did want to pastor together, but we doubted that such an opportunity would arise. Now here we are celebrating our first anniversary as the co-pastors of Commonwealth Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. It turns out that the sign on the church lawn isn’t an empty tag line. People are embraced at CBC no matter their background, theological perspective, sexual identity or political party. CBC is a safe place for those who have been hurt by church and those who need to ask brutally honest questions. Because of this, we find ourselves grateful for McAfee’s approach to education. In seminary we didn’t learn a specific set of doctrine. Our education wasn’t limited to what would be considered orthodox thinking in a moderate Baptist context. Instead, we were exposed to a variety of philosophies and a wide spectrum of theologies. We learned how to think, not how to memorize a particular set of beliefs. Largely because of the education we received at McAfee, parishioners’ difficult questions no longer make us uncomfortable. We carry the skill set to find connection points, to consider possibilities and to respect differing opinions. Instead of being limited by a narrow understanding of God, we welcome earnest questions and thoughts. In fact, we believe that deep, authentic faith emerges when people are given the freedom to question and wrestle.
Commonwealth Baptist A l e x a n d r i a , VA
Because of attempt at authentic openness, Commonwealth Baptist was able to call a husband and wife to pastor together in order to enhance the congregation. We are finding that the model works well for our church. During the interview process, we were asked, “How thick-skinned are you? What happens if the congregation likes one of you better than the other?” What we’re learning is that, instead of creating conflict, it benefits the church as a whole to have two pastors with a different set of gifts. Some people naturally seek a relationship with Marty and others gravitate to me. Instead of creating conflict, this makes space for more meaningful relationships. One couple told us that the wife connects with my style preaching and the husband with Marty’s; they are happy to be in a place where they both have a rich worship experience. Some women in the church have expressed joy at having the opportunity to connect with a female pastor and others like their pastor to be male. Since Marty and I are married, we notice that we also bring a family dynamic into our relationship as co-pastors. As we treat each other like family, the church community treats each other more like family. As they see us making decisions together, they begin to seek consensus among themselves. As people embrace our children, they also embrace other children in the church. Last summer, we preached the lectionary passages from Ephesians. Someone asked us to include a sermon on the submission passage in chapter five. While we normally alternate preaching, Marty and I preached that sermon together giving our church the opportunity to see a husband and wife interpret that difficult text together. This experience enabled all of us to gain a fuller understanding of the text. The class we wish seminary could have taught is how
to juggle being pastors and parents, for our family also consists of three fantastic young children. Once we both were in an important meeting only to hear one of our four year-old twin sons screaming for help. One of us left the meeting to find him standing in doorway of the sanctuary, where another congregation was worshiping, with his pants around his ankles. Preschoolers need help with that even on Sundays. Five minutes before worship was set to begin on Easter, Marty had to stop the baptistry from overflowing while I had to find an acolyte and get clothes for the baptism out of our car. One of our sons was missing in the church, and the other meandered into the sanctuary with a plate full of pancakes. We have no idea how we managed to begin worship on time with both sons safely in the nursery. We have also had to adjust our worship leadership so that we can foster the faith development of our seven yearold daughter. Our church has had to adjust to not having a minister sit on the platform during the service. We have had to teach them that our priority is to sit with her. We began our pastorate serving communion together but have since decided that we need to alternate that task so that can one of us sit with her and nurture her understanding of the meal. We discovered our sense of calling while at McAfee, yet we doubted that the opportunity would arise for us to fulfill that calling. It took time, but it happened. If you find yourself wondering if you’ll ever get to serve God in the way you most desire to serve, be patient. God has a place for each one of you. No exceptions. _Robin Anderson (‘04)
Pastor Trinity Baptist Church Conyers, GA
MDiv 2004 • DMin 2010
Ask any pastor, and she’ll tell you that preaching and teaching are the best parts of pastoring. That’s partially true for me as well. I enjoy teaching, preaching and storytelling. With that said, however, my favorite part of pastoring is simply being present with people in their greatest time of need. I cherish holding the hand of the cancer patient who just got word that neither chemo nor radiation treatments will help. It is a privilege to spend time with a teen at the Emergency Room after he’s been in a car accident. I enjoy simply spending time with folks in rehabilitation centers or assisted living. It’s an absolute honor to be invited into such holy spaces. This past year was among the hardest in the life of our church. We lost over five spouses either to illness or to cancer. We lost two mothers and a father. We lost grandparents, friends and cousins. With each fatal illness, I spent countless hours with families and caregivers. I watched husbands trying to come to terms with losing their beloved wives after fifty or sixty-plus years. I offered care to wives who still don’t know how they will make it without the support of their husbands. I’ve cried with adult children who grieved the fact that they can no longer call Mom or Dad when they simply need someone to talk to on the phone. It is in the midst of these moments, more than any other, that I truly feel called to sacred role of being a pastor. Parishioners often thank me for my participation in their lives, but I can’t help but to learn so much from these caregivers and couples. By spending time with them, I learn how to be a better pastor as well as a better husband and father. It’s a holistic experience for me.
I came to McAfee from an excellent undergraduate theology program in Florida, so when I signed up for seminary I focused primarily on how to be a pastor. I knew that theological and biblical know-how was only half of what a pastor needs to lead a church. I still needed training in pastoral care as well as balancing my love for biblical scholarship with the humility to meet people where they are. Choosing McAfee could not have been a better fit. I came to appreciate the way McAfee treated the pastorate as a “profession.” No matter how much people argue that professionalism in ministry is irrelevant, we pastors are still public stewards of a sacred trust. McAfee gave me the tools to practice confidentiality, develop spiritual friendships and cultivate pastoral authority in a world in which these values are less respected. McAfee also provided me with a community of colleagues that I now rely on for support, guidance and friendship. I regularly attend McAfee-sponsored events and bounce ideas or struggles off of other McAfee alumni. Since I am far from home (my family lives in New York), the McAfee community has become my surrogate family. And, for that, I am blessed and grateful. Pastoring is hard. But with the care of people at McAfee, I am better prepared and suited for the challenge. I feel capable to meet others where they need to be met and be fully present with those who need a pastor. To God be the glory. _Joe LaGuardia
The Calling of Congregational Leadership: Being, Knowing, Doing Ministry By Larry L. McSwain St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2013 It is difficult for me to say which part of Larry McSwain’s book is most valuable. It’s all valuable. This is one of the most comprehensive treatments on congregational leadership I have ever read. McSwain, retired associate dean at McAfee, uses the school’s three-fold emphasis on “Being, Knowing and Doing” as the framework to offer “specific ways pastoral and lay leaders can do a better job of leading their communities of faith to be more like the master of the Church” (p 5). The first section of the book is on the identity of a leader with chapters on calling, selfunderstanding and spiritual formation. Since leadership comes from within the person, it is essential for a leader to integrate multiple aspects of identity and spirituality while developing complex personal relationships within the congregation. The second section has to do with “the repertoire of knowledge” required for leadership. Leaders must be theologians, understanding the mission of God in the world; sociologists, understanding global and cultural realities; and congregational analysts, understanding the uniqueness of their own congregation. This section offers clear and concise summaries of missional theology, post-modernism, globalization and congregational ecology. The third section breaks down the “accomplishing” of ministry leadership into eight tasks: dreaming, caring, proclaiming, organizing, resourcing, mending, evaluating and celebrating. Here McSwain’s depth and breadth is evident as he describes and prescribes specific ways one leads effectively. These eight practices are illustrated with tables, charts, case studies and appendices. The bibliographical information is invaluable. He offers “models,” “frameworks” and helpful examples from leadership theorists and practitioners. He suggests multiple resources from churches, seminaries, denominations and ministry organizations. There are several reasons I like this book. One is that it is hopeful. McSwain writes about the future of churches in a positive and life-giving way without being simplistic or sentimental. He sees the challenges all around as well as ahead, but he chooses to write from the perspective of hope. Another reason I like this book is that it is written by a convictional Baptist for churches that practice a congregationally- based polity. According to McSwain, 53% of all American congregations function as locally autonomous entities. He writes, “These kinds of congregations function differently from many that are more connected to hierarchical and connectional structures of resources and guidance. Locally autonomous congregations are like pilgrims in a foreign land who must forge their own way in doing God’s work” (p 7). My only wish is that Larry McSwain had written this book ten years ago for those of us who are like “pilgrims in a foreign land.” _Daniel Vestal
Recent McAfee Publications
Pastoral Effectiveness The Sacredness of Human Life: Why an Ancient Biblical Vision is Key to the World’s Future By David P. Gushee “David Gushee is one of the preeminent Christian ethicists in the country, and his work is important for both those in the academic world and all of us trying to live out obedient and biblical lives. Gushee rescues the most spiritual of concepts from the narrow realm of political rhetoric, which it has come to inhabit in recent years.” —Jim Wallis, Sojourners
Yours is the Day Lord, Yours is the Night: A Morning and Evening Prayer Book By Jeanie and David Gushee “If there is such a thing as a ‘perfect’ prayer book, then Yours Is the Day, Lord, Yours is the Night is that book. Choosing with an unfailing sensitivity to both beauty and faithful practice, the Gushees have melded the Christian communions and tradition of two thousand years into one rich, melodious, and formative regimen for beginning and ending the Christian day.” —Phyllis Tickle, Founding Editor [ret], Publishers Weekly, RELIGION Hollow Faith: How Andy Griffith, Facebook and the American Dream Neutered the Gospel By Stephen Ingram “Stephen Ingram is the ‘Steve Jobs of the Youth Ministry world.’ I’m hard pressed to recall anyone with the inventiveness and informed creativity of this young man.” —Mark DeVries, President of Youth Ministry Architects
And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Sermons by Women in Baptist Life By Karen Massey “When Joel promised “and your daughters shall prophesy,” he could not have envisoned the quality of preachers represented in And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Sermons by Women in Baptist Life. Karen Massey has included a gifted gathering of pastors, professors and leaders.” —Brett Younger, Associate Professor of Preaching, McAfee School of Theology
As McAfee continues to grow so too does the list of accolades. Below is an inventory of recent publications by the McAfee community that will undoubtedly be helpful to anyone in congregational ministry. Lessons From the Cloth: 501 More One Minute Motivators for Leaders By Bo Prosser and Charles Qualls “These practical nuggets of wisdom gleaned from within congregational life by Prosser and Qualls, both veteran practitioners of ministry, may prove more valuable to church and community leaders than a library filled with volumes on leadership theory.” —Barry Howard, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pensacola, FL
A Hungry Soul Desperate to Taste God’s Grace: Honest Prayers for Life By Charles Qualls “For a half century, I have directed people who wanted to know how to pray to the prayers of a French monk named Michel Quoist. Now when they ask me, I will direct them also to A Hungry Soul, an exceptional collection of prayers by a Baptist pastor from Georgia named Charles Qualls. You will learn from both how to converse and commune with God in ordinary happenings of everyday.” —E. Glenn Hinson, Senior Professor of Church History and Spirituality, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky The Gendered Pulpit Sex, Body, and Desire in Preaching and Worship By Angela Yarber “This book provides the preaching guild and theological world with a prophetic voice about what we are truly called to be and to do in pulpits all across the church.” —The Rev. Marcia W. Mount Shoop, Ph.D., author of Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and the Body of Christ (WJKP, 2010), preacher, teacher, retreat leader and blogger.
The Lighter Side: Serving Up Life Lessons with a Smile By Brett Younger “With his trademark self-deprecating humor and insights that are at once pastoral and prophetic, Brett Younger’s columns are Grady Nutt meets Dave Barry meets Zephaniah.” —Julie Pennington-Russell, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Decatur, GA
Doctor of Ministry
M c A f e e S c h o o l o f Th e o l o g y Including specializations in Preaching & Christian Spirituality
theology.mercer.edu firstname.lastname@example.org 678-547-6474
From â€œWounded Storytellingâ€? by J. Barrett Owen:
1. Arthur W. Frank, The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995), xiii. 2. Ibid., 25. 3. Ibid., 64. 4. Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World (New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1992), 89. 5. Ibid., 89. 6. Ibid., 91. 7. Howard Thurman, Disciplines of the Spirit (Richmond: Friends United Press, 1963), 79. 8. Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1999), 13.
Community Ministry Award
Scholarly Achievement Award
Funmilayo Adebayo MDiv/MS Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Karen Harwell MDiv, Christian Education
2012-13 Masters Degree
Lanta Cooper MDiv/MS Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Isaac Sharp MDiv, Christian Social Ethics
Jessica Tidwell MDiv, Congregational Ministry
Key Excellence in Leadership Award
Britt Hester MDiv, Congregational Ministry
Robert Hodo MDiv, Counseling
Elices Washington, III MDiv, Christian Social Ethics
Review and Expositor
Daniel Mitchell MDiv, Christian Education
Christopher Cherry MDiv, Congregational Ministry
Alysha Vaughn MDiv, Academic Research
Gives students the resources to explore and live their calling
Supports the needs of a world-class faculty
Provides scholarships for outstanding students
Carries our founding vision forward to a new generation
Meets the current needs of our future church leaders
Affords transformative cross-cultural experiences
One of the most common questions about the MCAfee Annual Fund is The various examples highlighted above are just a few ways The Mercer Fund supports the James & Carolyn McAfee School of Theology. Unrestricted Mercer Fund gifts provide the vital stream of annual resources that make an immediate impact on our students, faculty and programs. Please make your gift today!
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class notes ‘01 ‘07 ‘02
is available through Parson’s Porch Baptist Church, Mt. Gilead NC 2010Publishing or at amazon.com 2012. She currently serves as a K-2 ESL Dixie (M.Div. ’08) & Scott Ford (M.Div. Literacy Tutor with A Community for ’01) are happy to announce that they Education (ACE) of Austin Texas and is have not had a baby this year. They pursuing Texas Teaching Certification have four children. That is all. Rory Nave (M.Div.) was called as in Special Education. She is married Senior Pastor by FBC Claxton, GA on to Zach Dawes, Jr. (graduate of Truett April 14 and will begin in early July. Seminary) who serves as the Managing Editor for EthicsDaily.com Brent Jones (M.Div. ’01) and Andrea Genny Rowley (M.Div.) has had a Dellinger Jones (M.Div. ’02) celebrate busy year! Last fall she began working Adam Garner (M.Div./M.S. Counseling) the birth of their daughter, Anne Elyse half-time as a pastoral counseling and wife, Sarah, celebrated the birth of Avila Jones. Anne Elyse was born on resident at Dallas’ Pastoral Counseling Liam Setter Garner on 7/27/2012. March 18, 2013 at 8:57pm. She was 7 Center. In January, she was named lbs 10 oz and 21 3/4 inches long. co-chair of Dallas Interfaith Power & Light. In March, she accepted a call to become Church in the Cliff’s Kristi Burgess (M.Div.) is now a half-time pastoral resident. Last but Licensed Professional Counselor and Dusty Wammack (M.Div.) has recently not least, she successfully defended just opened Relational Wellness, LLC, been called as Pastor to Families at her dissertation, “Practicing Hope: in Suwanee, GA. Crossbridge Baptist Church Augusta, Congregational Environmentalism as GA. Intersystemic Care” in April, and will Libby Grammer (M.Div.) was accepted graduate from Brite Divinity School’s to a MA program at the Graduate Pastoral Theology and Counseling PhD School of Religion at the University of program in May. Virginia studying Theology & Ethics. Laura Domke now Laura Domke Lorenz (M.Div.) married Björn Anna Knippel (M.Div.) is the Hearing Lorenz on March 22, 2012. Services Program Manager at the J. Livingston (M.Div.) was called on Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation. August 14, 2012 as the pastor of the She has served in this capacity for the Mt. Enon Baptist Church in Monroe, past two years. Becky Brannon (M.Div.) has served Georgia. A Church where the Holy as Chaplain at the GOOD NEWS Spirit flows like Living Waters and its’ CLINICS, Gainesville, Ga. for 7 1/2 mission is to Help Heal Human Hurt. years. Tanell Allen (M.Div.) will host her first Stephanie Little Coyne (M.Div.), Jesse, Mocha in my Coffee international and big sister Annie adopted and Erica Hartman Cooper (M.Div.) and empowerment conference on June 29 welcomed into their family a baby her husband Chris welcomed a baby titled “I am a World Changer.” boy, Logan, in February. Stephanie is girl, Rosalie Ann, into their family on working as Minister to Children, Youth, February 8, 2013. Nick Almand (M.A.C.M.) and wife, and Families at St. Charles Avenue Neely, will be having a baby boy at Baptist Church in New Orleans. Her Cody J. Sanders (M.Div./M.S. the end of September! This will be essay, “They, She, and Thou Art with Counseling) served as editor for the their first child. Me,” is included in the book, Divine book, Rightly Dividing the Word of Duet: Ministry and Motherhood, due Truth: A Resource for Congregations William Deal (M.Div.) Mary Kate out in the early summer. on Sexual Orientation and Gender (Christian) Deal (M.A.C.M. ‘13) Identity, 2nd ed., published in April married April 13, 2013 and live in Anthony Sean Neal (M.Div.) received 2013 by the Alliance of Baptists, Boone, NC. a D.A.H. degree (Doctor of Arts the Association of Welcoming and in Humanities) from Clark Atlanta Affirming Baptists and the Baptist Barbara A. Mitchell (M.Div.) was University on December 11, 2012. His Peace Fellowship of North America. ordained on April 14, 2013 at Liberty dissertation was entitled, “Common Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA). Ground: A Comparison of the Ideas of Consciousness in the Writings of Howard W. Thurman and Huey P. Zach Bay (M.Div.) is in the second Newton.” year of his residency at Northside Chuck Peek (M.Div.) is the new Drive Baptist Church in Atlanta and is Minister of Youth and Children at First grateful for way that this apprenticeship Baptist Church Laurens, SC. is helping him transition into pastoral Angela Yarber (M.Div.) celebrates ministry each and every day. the publication of her second book, The Gendered Pulpit: Sex, Body, and Peyton Montooth Dawes (M.Div.) Desire in Preaching and Worship. It served as Associate Pastor of First
Congratulations to the class of 2013!
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