Seminarians Learn About the Power of Preaching at PEP


From May 27-31, 2019 three seminarians from Seminary of the Southwest and six students in the Iona Collaborative joined 56 faculty-nominated seminarians and students in local formation programs, representing 17 Episcopal seminaries and Anglican Studies programs in the US and Canada, at the Preaching Excellence Program (PEP), the annual preaching conference presented by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. Held at the Diocese of Virginia’s Roslyn Retreat Center, PEP gathers ‘tomorrows clergy’ each year for a week of intensive focus on preaching.

“PEP gave me the opportunity to pay close attention to how my exact choice of words affect the message. A microscope look reveals a lot about how to faithfully revise your sermon,” said rising MDiv senior Laura Masterson. “It was also gratifying to know that my preaching education and practice at Southwest beforehand was really sound. The green deciduous trees and rolling hills of Virginia were a feast for my soul.”

Southwest students at PEP 2019

The importance of PEP in the formational journey of seminarians has long been established. “The Preaching Excellence Program offers students an invaluable opportunity to learn from star preachers, from experienced faculty, and from their peers. Our students testify to the encouragement and confidence that have gained from their participation,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Dean and President.

Corrie Cabes, a rising MDiv senior, felt the conference was transformative. “I’m grateful to SSW for sending me to PEP…it was a game changer for me,” said Cabes. “Not only did I get to hear from seasoned and powerfully gifted preachers, but the workshops and speakers encouraged and equipped me to be the preacher God is calling me to be. I was invited to preach in a small group with other seminarians and received constructive and helpful tips to hone my preaching skills. I felt uplifted by the experience and left with new friends and mentors from all over the Episcopal church.”

Several students participating in the Iona Collaborative were also in attendance. Used in 30 Episcopal dioceses, the Iona Collaborative is a cooperative local formation program that is directed by Seminary of the Southwest, and features curricular content created and provided by Southwest faculty. Iona student Courtney Taylor from the Diocese of Mississippi shared her experience on the Episcopal Preaching Foundation website:

Iona Students at PEP 2019

” My journey to ordination and the sacred work beyond as a deacon is a challenge that I continually meet in faith and the work always affirms my call. The Preaching Excellence Conference was also a challenge met in faith. It has affirmed, in me, that I am called to do the sacred work of preaching, and that God has given me all that I need to meet that challenge,” wrote Taylor. Read her entire note here.

Next year’s PEP conference will be held May 25-29, 2020 at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond, VA.