Beverly Hurley Hill, Canon for Mission and Lay Ministry, along with four other East Tennesseans, traveled to the Roslyn, Virginia retreat center to pray, preach, and collaborate on their roles as lay preachers. Canon Hurley Hill offers this reflection from the retreat.
Reflection from the Lay Preacher Training Initiative Retreat
I have had the great privilege this past year to work with four dedicated lay preachers from across our diocese. We are one of six dioceses selected for the Lay Preacher Training Initiative (LPTI), a new endeavor of the Episcopal Preaching (EPF) Foundation and funded by a grant from Trinity Wall Street. The goal of this 2-year, local training program is to form lay people into effective, confident preachers so that they can share God’s word and how God is moving in their own lives and communities. Responding to the needs of a changing Church, EPF builds on its 35-year history of offering annual preaching conferences to seminarians and clergy in this new program to equip and empower lay leaders within the Episcopal Church. For more information, please visit preachingfoundation.org.
In the third week of August, more than 30 gathered in a beautiful place with beautiful people at the Episcopal retreat center in Roslyn, Virginia. We met with other lay students and instructors from the other five dioceses (Central Gulf Coast, Lexington, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina). These brave people, students, and instructors are leaning into a call. Even in their own doubt, they are sharing the good news of God’s love, mercy, compassion, and goodness and ever new ways. Lay preachers in training spent their time at this gathering in small groups, sharing sermons and stories for feedback from peers and trainers, as well as worship and fellowship.
At Morning Prayer on the second day, one of our students (Freida Herron) preached. You are invited to experience her sermon yourself:
“Yes … Us!” We too can be called to “prepare the way for the Messiah”. “God can recognize something in us something beyond what we can envision in ourselves”. God’s wider field of vision always sees potential”.
I am incredibly moved by the gifts, love, support, and inspiration that our lay preachers bring to our diocese and our communities. Please continue to pray for them and encourage them as we finish our first year, enter our second year of study, and more formal preparation for exegesis and preaching to peer feedback.
Gratefully, Beverly Hurley Hill, Canon for Mission and Lay Ministry
Photo credit: Ms. Peter Wild