Can You Tell THE Story?

December 21, 2022

Western North Carolina Preaching Cohort

In Partnership with  

January 2023 – June 2023
Facilitated by Rev. Otto D. Harris, III, Ph.D.


This course is designed to provide resources and processes to the preacher who has the recurring task of providing spiritual nourishment to congregants in the form of a weekly sermon, telling THE story. This task can be particularly challenging in our 21st Century context, given the abundance of information available and the ways people receive information. The course will include observation of and conversations with some of the distinguished preachers in The United Methodist Church and in the country. This course will offer resources that stimulate the preachers’ boldness and imaginations in order to offer congregants transformation versus just information.

Course Texts

  • Black Methodists Preach, Gennifer Brooks (Abingdon Press, 2012)
  • Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World, Otis Moss III (Westminster John Knox Press, 2015)
  • Delivering the Sermon, Teresa L. Fry Brown (Fortress Press, 2008)
  • Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer (Penguin Group, 2011)
  • The Theological Network


Session One – Thursday, January 26, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 noon at Hood Theological Seminary
  • Selecting the Passage
  • Preparing Your Heart
Session Two – Thursday, February 23, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 noon at Hood Theological Seminary  
Session Three – Thursday, March 30, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 noon at Hood Theological Seminary
  • Dipped in the Wellspring of Wisdom: Preparing Your Mind (Resources for inquiry and recall tools)
  • Exegeting the Text (exploring possible answers)
  • Conversation with Rev. Telley Gadson, District Superintendent, Hartsville District, South Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church (Finding your voice and being true to it)
Session Four – Thursday, April 27, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 noon at Hood Theological Seminary
  • A Cup I Can Recognize: Preparing Your People
  • Telling the Contemporary Story (Illustrating and Concretizing)
  • Conversation with Rev. Dr. B. Kevin Smalls, Senior Pastor, Hope UMC, Southfield, MI (Rhythm, Tone, and Melody in Preaching)
Session Five – Saturday-Sunday, May 20-21 at Central UMC, Atlanta, GA
  • Observing the Preaching of Rev. Dr. Vance P. Ross, Senior Pastor, Central UMC, Atlanta, GA
  • Conversation with Dr. Ross about “Preaching Free in a Bound Context” - Include content from 1) his May 22 sermon and 2) his chapter in Black United Methodists Preach and 3) one of his recorded sermons online prior to our trip.
  • The cost of the hotel is included in the registration.  Participants will pay for all meals except Sunday lunch with Dr. Ross.
Session Six – Tuesday, July 18, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 noon at Hood Theological Seminary
  • Strike Fire – sermon delivery with power and conviction
  • Closing the feedback loop – tools for determining what the congregation heard
  • Preacher Conversation with Bishop Sharma Lewis (character, responsibility, and accountability and preaching)
Leadership Development