Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence Launches Five New Preaching Peer Groups

The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence has launched five new preaching peer groups that began meeting in March 2017. Each group consists of 8-12 pastors organized by a local convener. Each group works with a facilitator, a homiletical scholar who is in regular conversation with the convener and resources the group through a series of webinars.

On Feb. 21, conveners and facilitators attended a training session led by the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence (PCPE) Leadership Team: Dr. Alyce McKenzie, Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins and Director of PCPE; Dr. O. Wesley Allen Jr., Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins; and Dr. W. Craig Gilliam, director of the Louisiana Annual Conference Center for Pastoral Excellence, Adjunct Faculty in Perkins’ Doctor of Ministry program and Leadership Trainer for PCPE.

Two groups are starting in the Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church, at the invitation of Bishop William McAlilly. One is convened by Rev. Dr. Michael O’Bannon, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and is made up of pastors from the Tennessee Annual Conference. The other is convened by Rev. Larry Daniel, retired pastor from First United Methodist Church of Lexington, Tenn., and consists of pastors from the Memphis Annual Conference.

The homiletical facilitator of these groups is Dr. Richard Eslinger. Dr. Eslinger has written extensively on narrative in preaching and has served as both homiletics professor and President of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Three groups are starting in Texas.

One group is based in the North Texas Annual Conference, co-convened by Rev. Kennon Pickett and Rev. Scott Gilliland, Associate Pastors at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas. Their homiletical facilitator is Dr. Karla Bellinger, Associate Director of the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Bellinger’s focus in on preaching to reach teens and young adults.

Two groups consisting of pastors from the Central Texas Annual Conference are convened by Rev. Estee Valendy, Co-Pastor at Saginaw United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, and Rev. Dr. David Mosser, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Arlington. Their homiletical facilitator is also Dr. Karla Bellinger.

Groups meet monthly in daylong session over a 12-month period. They follow a curriculum that focuses on aspects of storytelling as a vehicle for sharing the gospel, in keeping with the motto of the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence, “Share the Story, Shape the World!” Each month two group members preach and receive feedback from their colleagues.

Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence is in the process of forming new groups that will launch in the fall. If you are interested in learning more, contact


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.