Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Festival of Preaching scheduled April 11 to 15

“Preaching and Worship for Justice” is the theme for the fourth Festival of Preaching and Worship Monday through Thursday, April 11 to 14, at First United Methodist Church, 180 Denny Way in Seattle.

Worship at a previous Festival of Preaching.  Photo from Cory Maclay

There are three pre-festival workshops offered by Eugene Cho, Ted Smith, and Tony Robinson. Separate registration is required for these workshops.

There are many opportunities to connect with ministry professionals and lay participants. The event seeks to inspire through preaching, engage through worship and connect through conversations to equip people to serve Christ in the world.

The planning team includes Cory Maclay of Plymouth UCC in Seattle, who is the festival director, along with representatives of Presbyterian, United Methodist, Disciples of Christ and Free Methodist Churches, and the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

There are nine featured preachers.

Ayanna Johnson Watkins, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor and social worker based in Memphis, Tenn., seeks to build transformative community and nurture each person’s God-given purpose. Her experiences as a youth pastor in Chicago and lead pastor of a multicultural congregation she helped found, and her time as a community organizer and counselor informs her preaching.

Her first sermon, based on Luke 4:1-13, will consider temptation and what winning looks like in the context of a just world. Her second, “Waiting on the World to Change,” based on Isaiah 58:1-8, asks, given the current political and social reality, how to anticipate and prepare for a new day.

DJ del Rosario, ordained  an elder in the United Methodist Church in 2009, was associate pastor at Faith UMC in Issaquah and pastor of Lynden UMC before becoming senior pastor at Bothell UMC. He helps the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry relate to the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry.

He will use the text Ezra 1:1-3 to preach about ministry with people on the spectrum.

Eugene Cho, the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multi-cultural and multi-generational church in Seattle, is the author of Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

He, his wife Minhee and their three children are founders and visionaries of One Day’s Wages (ODW).  This grassroots movement that seeks to alleviate extreme global poverty will be the focus of a pre-festival workshop.

His sermon for the opening worship Monday afternoon is based on Amos 5:21-24.

Ginger Gaines-Cirelli recently became the first woman to serve as senior pastor of historic Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C. A pastor-theologian for more than 20 years, she has a ministry that encourages radical hospitality, spiritual practices, and solidarity with the poor and oppressed.

Her two sermons will use technology as a backdrop for considering the power of the Easter story. On Monday night in “404 Error: Not Found” based on Mark 11:1-19, she’ll ask what it means to believe in a Jesus who was dangerous enough to be arrested and killed by the state. On Wednesday in “The Life App” based on Mark 16:1-8, she will guide listeners to consider the power of the empty tomb and the empty spaces in their lives.

Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, is a scholar-activist pastor, who has served in rural and urban communities on the East and West Coasts in parish and campus settings. She is an adjunct professor at Pacific School of Religion and Drew University’s doctor of ministry program, and the co-author of Talking about Homosexuality: A Congregational Resource.

She will preach Tuesday night and participate in a facilitated panel conversation with Quinn Caldwell.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, now senior vice president for public engagement at Auburn Seminary, was the executive editor of global spirituality and religion at The Huffington Post from 2009 to 2015.

An ordained American Baptist minister, Paul speaks and preaches at colleges, churches and institutes around the country. He regularly offers commentary on religion and society. His first book is Teen Spirit: One World, Many Faiths. He edited the 100th anniversary edition of Walter Rauschenbusch’s book, Christianity and the Social Crisis – In the 21st Century.

He will participate in a facilitated panel conversation with Ted Smith on Tuesday morning and preach Wednesday afternoon.

Quinn Caldwell, pastor of Plymouth Congregational UCC, a progressive church in Syracuse, N.Y., co-edited The Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ. He contributes to The Christian Century, the UCC’s Stillspeaking Daily Devotional, and Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary.  His most recent book is All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas.

He will preach Wednesday evening and participate in a facilitated panel.

Ted Smith, associate professor of preaching and ethics at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, studies how everyday church life intersects with fundamental questions of religion, politics and culture. His book, Weird John Brown, works through memories of the abolitionist to understand relationships between race, religion, law and violence.

His pre-festival workshop, “Preaching without Notes,” is for people who have never tried to preach without notes and for those who have done so for a long time. He will cover various ways to preach without notes, and discerning when it is fitting to use a manuscript.

Tony Robinson, a preacher and teacher, consultant and coach to congregations and their leaders, is the author of more than a dozen books including Transforming Congregational Culture and Changing the Conversation.

Tony, who has taught and lectured at numerous seminaries, founded the Festival of Preaching NW in 2010.  For 13 years, he wrote a column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Faith Matters.”

His pre-festival workshop, “The Preaching Lab,” asks eight participants to bring a “work in progress” sermon they want to strengthen.

For information, call 206-622-7278 or visit


Copyright © February 2016 - Pacific Northwest Conference News


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share