Preaching from the Margins

November 4, 2019

Course Description

Margins are “radical spaces of openness and creativity” that are conducive to transformational preaching and listening. 1 This course explores both the margins and the preaching theories of the marginalized. More specifically, together we will examine the preaching theories African American, women, differently abled, queer and classed (and more) to assess how we might do justice to and in our preaching in an effort to affirm all humanity. Hence we will learn how to preach what Frank Thomas calls ‘Dangerous Sermons’ with the hope of repairing the breach created by our inability to affirm and hold the truth of a ‘Beloved Community.’ The cohort will meet for 2 hours and 30 minutes from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm for six months at Wake Forest University School of Divinity from January to June: 

Note the last four sessions will focus on peer reviewed sermons. 

January 17
What are margins and why should we preach from/on/too them?

February 7
Identities and Identifications: Exploring and Confronting Social Location in Preaching
Shifting Privileges: Expanding and Challenging the Story

March 6
Developing a Healing Homiletic
Irresponsible Preaching and Dangerous Sermons

April 3
Preaching Dangerous Sermons

May 1
Preaching Dangerous Sermons

June 5
Preaching Dangerous Sermons

Course Learning Goals

1. To develop homiletical methodologies and communicative strategies attentive to class,
race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, denomination and geography that connects
historical and contemporary preaching practices with the quest for “beloved
2. To prepare students with contextual strategies, faith, language and critical engagement
skills to further develop homiletical skills

Course Format and Student Outcomes

The course is designed to maximize student participation through class discussion of readings,
mini-lectures, delivery of sermons, extemporaneous exercises and written assignments. By the
end of this course students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of a variety of standpoints from which sermons are preached.
  2. Employ effective approaches for the development of sermons to meet specific preaching purposes.
  3. Develop contextually conceived, well-structured sermons that positively impact the lives of marginalized individuals and communities.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to understand the spiritual and emotional needs of the people to whom they will be preaching.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to constructively evaluate their peers.

Required Texts

Preaching Justice: Ethnic and Cultural Perspectives, Christine Marie Smith (PJ)
How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon, Frank Thomas (DS)
Beyond Heterosexism in the Pulpit (BHP)
Better: Waking Up to Who We Could Be, Melvin Bray (BTR)
A Healing Homiletic (HH)

Led by Dr. Melva Sampson. Dr. Sampson is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology at Wake Forest Divinity School.  She is a practical theologian and ordained minister.  Her research interests include Black preaching women’s embodiment, African heritage spiritual traditions, Black girls’ ritual performance, and the relationship between digital proclamation and spiritual formation.  She is the creator and curator of Pink Robe Chronicles ™ and Raising Womanish Girls ™, both digital platforms used to elucidate the role of sacred memory and ritual in the collective healing of marginalized communities.
Leadership Development