By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Attending worship in Episcopal congregations increasingly means hearing a homily from a layperson rather than a priest. The faithful are hearing heartfelt accounts of what it’s like to follow Christ in today’s messy, complex world. And a new program is making sure laypeople are trained in the homiletic craft — more trained, in fact, than most priests are — when they step into the pulpit.
The Lay Preacher Training Initiative (LPTI) of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation is completing a two-year training pilot program funded by a three-year, $400,000 grant from Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City. A pioneering cohort of 30 lay preachers from six dioceses will graduate in a November ceremony at Washington National Cathedral.
“Bishops speak to our tradition and how it impacts our present and future.
Priests speak to the life of the whole congregation, and
Deacons call us into the world to care for those in need.
Lay preachers speak of living the Gospel in everyday life.”
—The Rev. Stephen Smith, Director of the Lay Preacher Training Initiative
The Lay Preacher Training Initiative, funded by a generous grant from Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, is a local formation experience designed to prepare effective, confident, and passionate licensed lay preachers for our Church. Six pilot dioceses have taken part in the initial two-year rollout of the program, raising up two local trainers and up to six lay preachers in training each for regular study of scripture and theology, exegesis strategies, and practical homiletics. The cornerstone of the program is preaching to feedback, both to peers within the cohort and regularly in their local congregations. The first 30 lay preachers to complete the Lay Preacher pilot program will celebrate their new ministry at a noon service of Holy Eucharist to be held at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, November 11, 2023.
Under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Stephen Smith, the Lay Preacher Training Initiative envisions a broadening of partnerships with dioceses and diocesan schools for ministry to identify and train local individuals called to preach the Good News, with timelines that are adjustable for each local context.
Download a brochure about the program.
Representatives of dioceses interested in participating in the 2024 program cycle should fill out the contact form.
Videos of the Lay Preacher Training Initiative
Lay Preacher Conference for Southern Ohio and Idaho-February 2023
Lay Preacher Training 2022
Bishop Scott Barker reflects on why the Diocese of Nebraska chose to be a partner in piloting the Lay Preacher Training Initiative.
THE CEEP NETWORK
Panelists: Stephen Smith, D. Min.; Larry Holben; Brian Prior, Susanna Singer, Ph.D.; Deborah Stokes-Wayne
Lay Preacher, Diocese of Southern Ohio
Each order of ministry brings a unique perspective to the pulpit: bishop, priest, deacon, and lay preacher. Invaluable in thinly resourced dioceses and congregations, the lay preacher can add a powerful community-based dimension to the Sunday message in stronger parishes, extending the range and relevance of the Sunday message.
Lay Preacher, Diocese of East Tennessee
Sermon on Acts 9:10
Dr. Salem Saloom
Lay Preacher, Diocese of Central Gulf Coast
Sermon on John 6:41-51