If you are looking to grow as a preacher and are open to exploring your preaching practice with a peer group, consider the Homiletic Peer Coaching seminar held at Bethany Theological Seminary, August 8-11, 2016. This collaborative formation experience is being planned and led by Bethany alumnae and preaching pastors Jeanne Davies, MDiv, and Katie Shaw Thompson, MDiv.
Both Davies and Thompson are enrolled in the David G. Buttrick Homiletic Peer Coaching Program at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee. In this ecumenical two-year certificate program, they have both participated in and led homiletic peer coaching groups and will use the same curriculum for the seminar at Bethany. Attendees will participate in two models for the homiletic peer-group process, first examining preacher formation through case studies. Sermon formation will then be explored through questions brought by participants for the group to address.
Enrollment in the Homiletic Peer Coaching seminar is limited to ten accepted participants, and continuing education credits are available. For this initial peer group, Bethany Seminary will provide a scholarship for 50 percent of the $600 tuition cost, bringing each participant’s cost to $300. The application deadline is June 30, 2016. For more information and to apply, go to homileticpeercoaching.org.
Davies and Thompson describe the curriculum as “inductive, drawing out of participants the gifts and opportunities for growth—with which God has already endowed the preacher—in a setting that utilizes the wisdom and discernment of the peer group, as led by the Holy Spirit. The peer coaching method allows for a wide variety of theological outlooks, experience, training, and cultural backgrounds.” As participants engage with each other’s questions, experiences, and learning, they develop and deepen their own preaching practices.
The training methods in the David B. Buttrick Homiletic Peer Coaching Program were developed by two Vanderbilt professors: Dale P. Andrews, Distinguished Professor of Homiletics, Social Justice, and Practical Theology, and John McClure, Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship. They also serve as faculty in the certificate program. Among other invited instructors was Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany.
Davies and Thompson were among only six applicants accepted into this first cohort of the peer coaching program. Other denominations represented are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Church of Denmark. They look forward to graduating from the program in January 2017 following a final intensive session, with the upcoming seminar at Bethany serving as their capstone project.