By Edie Wakevainen
Thanks to the Rev. Peggy Lo, a participant in the 2018 Preaching Excellence Program (PEP) for seminarians, for agreeing to share her biographical sketch and respond to some questions.
The Rev. Peggy Lo is the Rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Austin. She currently serves as Vice President of the board of the Episcopal Parish Network. Prior to ordained ministry, she had a career in organizing and nonprofit administration with The Public Interest Network and translating Buddhist lectures from Mandarin to English for Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the city of Austin, theorizing about the MCU and other fandoms, and finding the perfect scallion pancake recipe.
KERYGMA™: What was the most memorable aspect of the 2018 PEP conference?
Peggy Lo: First, we got to hear a variety of people (other attendees, faculty, and guest speakers) preach every day. The emphasis was on authenticity in parishioner’s most in-depth (or only!) encounter with scripture is in Sunday’s bulletin. Omitting passages may excise entire narratives from the congregation’s consciousness thereby limiting the scope of the Biblical witness and limiting our collective understanding of the divine.
The mere idea of this lectionary, then, would be a valuable teaching and preaching tool, but Gafney has done the work to make it an invaluable aid for the busy parish preacher. In addition to the thoughtful (if brief) preaching prompts and textual notes, she includes a scriptural index and bibliography along with several introductory essays (the same in both volumes) describing her process and intent. There is also an appendix listing “God Names and Divine Titles” for use in corporate worship and private devotion. This supplemental material makes the books useful even if the preacher never deviates from the RCL.
The only thing we might miss is a set of collects to pray along with the texts. Gafney’s introduction notes that this is not an oversight but an opportunity for preachers and readers to develop their own prayers. While this may make wholesale adoption of the lectionary a bit harder, one can imagine creating a parish educational series devoted to teaching the form of a collect, and harvesting a crop of prayers from the faithful.
Consider adopting A Women’s Lectionary for a year, a season, or a day’s worth of worship. Read it to enrich your own devotional practice or to expand your library of homiletical resources. An investment in the series will pay rich dividends. Gafney’s thoughtful commentaries and provocative translations will breathe new life into your preaching and stretch your congregation’s theological imagination, engaging the reader or hearer with fresh language through which to encounter the Triune God.
The Rev. Kate Spelman is an Episcopal Preaching Foundation faculty member.