Office Phone: (540) 432-4264
Office Location: SB 223
Many congregations today struggle to find relevance in traditional worship practices and leaders are unsure of how to anchor congregational life to the heart of the gospel in liberating ways that attend to the Bible and complexities of human existence. Dr. Joni Sancken is passionate about reclaiming the sermon as a transformative tuning note for all of congregational life and sees life-giving potential in connecting preaching to the cross. We don’t need another generation of shallow sermons that reduce the gospel to self-improvement and individual achievement. We need a renewed sense of preaching that gathers the community around the cross. The cross of Christ has power to speak to the heart of human existence from the heart of the gospel with transformative good news. Dr. Sancken’s current work explores how proclaiming the reality inaugurated by the cross can set a tone for congregational life that is deeply tuned by God’s redemptive and world-changing action through Christ.
Joni Sancken grew up at First Mennonite Church in Urbana, IL. She graduated with a Ph.D.in Homiletics from the Toronto School of Theology in 2009, earned an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary (2004), and a B.A. from Goshen College (1998). Dr. Sancken completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Practical Theology and Religious Practices at Emory University in May 2010 and has recently been appointed Director of Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s Preaching Institute, which is committed to finding ways to support and enhance preaching in congregations through consultation, courses, workshops and other events.
She has served as a pastor, frequent guest preacher, and supportive spouse to her husband, Steve Schumm who currently serves as Associate Pastor at Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, VA.
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Practical Theology and Religious Practices, 2009- 2010
Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
- Ph.D. Homiletics, 2009
Toronto School of Theology.
Dissertation: “Preaching in the Key of the Cross”
Supervisor: Paul Scott Wilson
- M.Div., 2004
Princeton Theological Seminary.
- B.A. Communications, 1998
- Sancken, Joni. “Propers 23-28.” Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary Year B. (Abingdon, forthcoming).
- Sancken, Joni. “Epiphany” New Proclamation, Series C, Advent through Holy Week 2012-2013. (Fortress, 2012).
- Sancken, Joni. “Dawbarn, Elizabeth (early 19th cent.).” Biographical History of Women Biblical Interpreters. Ed. Marion Taylor. (Baker Academic, 2012).
- Sancken, Joni. “Deverell, Mary (18th cent.).” Biographical History of Women Biblical Interpreters. Ed. Marion Taylor. (Baker Academic, 2012).
- Sancken, Joni. “Proper 11, years A, B, and C.” Preaching Social Justice and Transformation: A Lectionary Commentary, Year A, Year B, and Year C. Eds. Ronald J. Allen, Dale P. Andrews, and Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm. (Westminster John Knox, 2011, 2012, projected 2013).
- Sancken, Joni. “Calling Forth More Witnesses: Claiming the Voices of Preachers Silenced by History.” Toronto Journal of Theology, vol. 26, no 1(2010):47-58.
- Sancken, Joni. “Women Like Ourselves: Increasing Nineteenth-century Spheres of Interpretive Influence.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. New Orleans, LA, Nov. 2009.
- Sancken, Joni. “Re-tuning Doctrine, Proclamation and Ethical Orientation in the Mennonite Tradition.” Paper presented at Mennonite Graduate Student Conference. Harrisonburg, VA, Aug. 2008.
- Sancken, Joni. “Calling Forth More Witnesses: Claiming the Voices of Preachers Silenced by History.” Paper presented at the Academy of Homiletics Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, MN, Nov. 2007.