Women Clergy Convocation Attendees Learn the Power of a Story
What do others see in your story? Over a hundred women clergy from across the South Central Jurisdiction pondered that question during the keynote address by the Rev. Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie, Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology where she holds the George W. and Nell Ayers LeVan Endowed Chair of Preaching and Worship. As the Director of the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence, a groundbreaking program designed to improve the quality of preaching through enhanced classroom teaching and peer learning groups for pastors, she had much to share about enhancing truth through the power of a story.
“We are hardwired with an appetite for story,” she shared, “and a good storyteller can seize your attention and emotions so that the story alters the way we see our world and can sneak up and make us laugh or cry.” She encouraged attendees to weave more narrative into the teaching of truth. “Biblical stories and personal stories can cross boundaries, race, gender but in many ways people aren’t buying our story because so many Christians are joyless and judgmental.”
Adds Alyce, “Some say we are losing the ability to make a continuous story of our lives because we are always being interrupted, and that we are living episode to episode – due to a cultural ADD. So, I believe our job is to distract people from their distractions through the power of story. Sermons and our life stories should leave people wishing they knew God better. We can talk about God but it will fall on deaf ears if we do not embody the love of God by being story sermons ourselves through our words and actions – a healing balm for our families, church and the world. Through our life stories a light shines in the darkness as we live with attractive joy.”
What do others see in your story? Alyce believes preaching invites others into the story. She advised the clergy audience to share truth in compelling ways with concrete, significant details to drive home the points and help others enter the scene. Adds Alyce, “What will people say at your eulogy? Make an emotional investment in others as you fast forward to the last scene of your unique story.”
Rev. Juanita Rasmus, St. John’s UMC Houston led by example in her “Telling my story” session, and the Art Encounter workshop was a big hit. Dr. Grace Loudd was another of the keynote speakers that inspired many. Workshops such as “Empowering the Lay Person” (led by Texas Conference leader Leah Taylor) and “Running on Empty” (led by TAC pastors Hannah Terry and Sunny Farley) added more depth and interactivity to the three-day event. Throughout their time together, conference participants had the opportunity to share a story or thought or insight on video at the Story Booth. These were incorporated into the worship service on Wednesday. Rev. Tamara Holtz appreciated the connectional nature of the event. “One of my favorite activities was meeting with the Great Plains group as we shared our vision for the future,” she shares.
Attendees Leave Blessed“This was a welcome time of refreshing for me,” says Rev. Deanna Young, Fairbanks UMC, Houston. Stacy Auld, Houston Methodist Hospital, shares, “I was inspired and empowered to go forth and pursue my ministry in the hospital with vigor and passion.” ‘The event was so meaningful and healing,” shares Kalamba Kiboko.