School for Leadership Training 2004 Promotes Strong Preaching

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If solid, effective preaching intends to actively draw people in the pews into a dynamic interchange with the preacher and the Bible, then the opening address of the 2004 School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary on Jan. 19 offered a prime example of that three-way conversation.

Keynote speaker John Kinney, dean of the School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, broke open the biblical text as he combined exhuberant oratory, vivid word pictures and dramatic body movement in calling his audience to “Get Up and Get Loose.”

Dr. Kinney, who is also pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Beaverdam, Va., based his prophetic sermon on the biblical account in the 11th chapter of John of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

“Jesus shared the pain of the moment when someone He loved died – He wept,” the speaker said. “The stone covering the tomb became a symbol of the separation of the ‘dead, smelly one’ from all that we perceive as sweet and pure on the outside.

“Are you ready to roll some stones away and confront those structural realities that separate people from God and from injustices enacted on each other?” Kinney asked, noting that doing so was an essential to the ministry of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Notice in the scripture account