The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence is a new initiative of Perkins School of Theology made possible by a generous five-year grant from the Lilly Foundation. Perkins was one of several seminaries invited to submit proposals for initiatives that would enhance the teaching of preaching in seminary classrooms and the preaching of working pastors through peer learning groups.
The theme of the Center is “Telling the Story: Storytelling as a Vehicle for Sharing the Gospel.” The Director is the Rev. Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie, Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship. The Center will be guided by an Executive Board composed of members of the Perkins faculty as well as an Advisory Panel consisting of members of the broader SMU faculty and leaders in the church and community.
Dr. Michael Waters and David K. Johnson, mentor and student,
during the inaugural spring 2014 Mentor Pastor group.
(Photo: Sam Hodges)
In its first six months, the Center launched an innovative pairing of Introductory preaching students with seasoned, effective preachers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The mentor program proved instructive and inspiring for students and mentors alike. Four peer groups of pastors from Arkansas, North Texas, Houston and Louisiana are being led by a facilitator known for their experience and effectiveness in preaching. Groups meet 10 times a year to study aspects of storytelling and preaching and to give one another constructive feedback on one another’s sermons. Additional peer groups from other geographical areas will launch each fall.
Dr. Alyce McKenzie, Director Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence
The kickoff event for the peer groups occurred August 25 and 26, 2014. Groups gathered at Perkins to get to know one another and to experience workshops in storytelling and improvisation as a tool for preparation and delivery of sermons. Future plans for the Center include setting up one-on-one coaching for those who wish to improve their preaching in specific ways as well as innovative programs that collaborate with other events at Perkins, SMU and Churches of various denominations in the community and region.