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January 13, 2019: Canvass Reflections Part 2, Preaching

by Father Jadon


Among the thoughts and comments that were compiled from the every member canvass, one important cluster had to do with preaching. Of course, this is no surprise. Some regard the sermon as the most important aspect of worship and choose (or judge) a church and its clergy accordingly. But of course assessing preaching is a highly subjective endeavor with a host of variables that we each prioritize differently. We as a congregation are certainly not of one mind about preaching, and this variety of opinion and priority was evident in your feedback.

In the canvass report there were eight different kinds of comments expressing satisfaction with preaching at All Souls and six expressing different kinds of dissatisfaction.  There were two specific requests for shorter sermons, four requests for sermons that more regularly engage current events and “the politics of our faith,” and two specific requests to steer clear of these concerns. Let me reiterate that the feedback was collected in such a way that it is somewhat difficult to tell how many individuals are represented by each of these comments, but the ratios seem to me to match what I have heard directly from you. In addition to these comments was appreciation for the more regular diversity of voices from the pulpit of the last few years and a desire for me, in particular, to incorporate more humor, personal stories, and connection to the times in which we live.

I will be honest with you: preaching here at All Souls has been a real challenge for me. This is an intelligent congregation with many strong opinions, as you can see from the above. While preaching is important to you all, you are not of one mind about what you hope to receive from a preacher.  While this is the case in many churches, I have found it to be even more so here at All Souls as compared to the other churches where I’ve been a recurring preacher.  I’m aware that all this has resulted in somewhat uneven preaching, on my part, as I have attempted to balance who I am, what I feel called to preach in this time and place, and all of the opinions I have received from you along the way. What I can tell you is that I feel a new sense of quiet confidence in the pulpit, that I intend to nourish. While no preacher can satisfy everyone all of the time, I pray that the preaching at All Souls will nurture and challenge you at least most of the time.

Last Published: January 10, 2019 4:00 PM
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