Center for Excellence in Preaching Summer Seminars
Published by Scott Hoezee
Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching
While much of the Seminary becomes a quiet place in the summer months, the ofﬁce of The Center for Excellence in Preaching becomes a hive of activity during the summer, since summer is the ideal time to host pastors for continuing education seminars. In 2016 a week-long seminar was held in each of the three summer months of June, July, and August.
In June, Director Scott Hoezee, Program Administrator Mary Bardolph, and CTS Presidentemeritus Neal Plantinga welcomed twenty-one pastors and their families to Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado for the “Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching” seminar. The setting at Snow Mountain is perfect for the whole family, and this year the entire group numbered close to one hundred people, including almost ﬁfty children, many under the age of ten! e pastors spent the mornings discussing the literature they had read ahead of time. Calvin College English professors Gary Schmidt and Susan Felch led sessions on children’s literature and poetry respectively. Afternoons and evenings were free time for the families to explore the Ranch or visit the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. This year’s group included pastors from all over the U.S. and Canada—including one pastor from Singapore—and was highly ecumenical, with pastors from ten diﬀerent denominations in attendance.
In July the Seminary welcomed Dr. David Lose to lead a weeklong seminar entitled “Preaching in a Postmodern, Post-Christian Age.” Dr. Lose is a past professor of preaching at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis and has recently been serving as president of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. He has also written the book Preaching at the Crossroads. In the July seminar sixteen pastors—again from around North America and from a variety of denominations—pondered the new challenges that face preachers in a world that has lost all sense of a larger narrative structure to life and that tends to be wary of any ultimate truth claims. In addition to pondering the contours of our current cultural climate, each day in the seminar focused on a particular preaching text as participants pondered how best to present such texts given the changed acoustics of a postmodern, digital world.
Finally, in August the Seminary welcomed Rev. Ron van der Spoel, a pastor from the Netherlands and an accomplished teacher of preaching. Van der Spoel presented on the theme of “Fresh Sermons for Fresh Expressions,” helping the participating pastors think of new ways to interactively and dynamically engage the congregation in the weekly sermon so that the sermon can move from monologue to dialogue. is seminar was attended by ﬁfteen CRC pastors, all of whom have been participating in the Church Renewal Lab program of Calvin Seminary’s Institute of Global Church Planting and Renewal. Rev. Keith Doornbos, director of the Renewal Lab, also participated in the seminar. e ﬁrst part of the week the pastors pondered why people today expect greater participation in the preaching moment than previous generations. The second part of the week focused on techniques to accomplish this desired participation, and the week concluded with pastors presenting in-process sermons that they had started to write during the course of the seminar.
Through such summer seminars, as well as through the new resources it provides every week on its website (cep.calvinseminary.edu), the Center for Excellence in Preaching remains committed to helping busy pastors with their enormously vital weekly task of preaching vibrant messages based on God’s Holy Word.
The Ministry Theorem
Some years ago as a result of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Seminary’s Center for Excellence in Preaching built a new website to help pastors, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and others in the church locate good quality resources related to the ﬁeld of science and its intersection with faith. This year the website underwent a re-design overhaul thanks primarily to the work of CEP Program Administrator Mary Bardolph and with the help of Tom VanKeulen of the Seminary’s I.T. Department. e overhaul came about partly in response to the CRC Synod’s request for the College and Seminary to provide resources related to science and ministry. e new site is available for anyone looking for sermon ideas, Sunday school curricula, slideware, or literature in the overall area of science and theology. All these resources can be found at http://ministrytheorem.calvinseminary.edu/. The website also features the essays the Seminary commissioned from a number of scientists that were included in the book Delight in Creation: Scientists Share their Work with the Church. These informative essays highlight recent discoveries in astronomy, mathematics, string theory, ecology, geology, and more.
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