The chapters that follow signal a new day for preaching in an Anabaptist (and Mennonite) context. Thirty years ago we would have been hard pressed to find two, let alone fourteen, Anabaptists able to combine their efforts to shape a volume on the preaching ministry from a scholarly perspective. As editors we are pleased to present the thoughtful reflection of this collection of scholars, most of whom have not previously published on the topic.
Our hope is that this book may serve several purposes. First, we envision its use as a text in preaching classes at Anabaptist-related as well as Mennonite colleges, seminaries, and conference-based or regional training programs. When used alongside the more standard "Introduction to Preaching" volumes, this collection can enable students to reflect on issues especially crucial in preaching to Anabaptist congregationssuch as the place of the Old Testament, the role of the congregation in preaching, preaching within the worship context, preaching doctrine, and so forth. Second, we hope the book will help seasoned preachers to think through some perennial preaching issues and approach their task more reflectively and intentionally. Third, the book can offer a window into the Anabaptist homiletical world to homileticians and others who are interested in preaching and rhetoric in general.
It is fitting that a book on Anabaptist preaching, like the preaching event itself, should be a communal undertaking. We want to thank the community of persons who made this project possible. Our thanks go first of all to the Preaching Institute of Eastern Mennonite Seminary. As a member of the Preaching Institute advisory council, Michael had opportunity to participate in discussions of the Institutes vision and needs. Such conversation included brainstorming how to find or generate Anabaptist-related preaching resources to be used in Institute training as well as more broadly. That brainstorming provided one significant impetus to this book. The other was the fact that David and Michael, both pastoring congregations in Franconia Conference, a regional denominational body based in southeastern Pennsylvania, became aware of each others preaching visions through taking in preaching seminars led by the other. In light of this, we are certainly grateful to James M. Lapp, conference pastor in Franconia Conference who invited us to offer preaching seminars; and to Ervin Stutzman and Mark Wenger, Preaching Institute leaders who, along with advisory council members, helped shape the vision for this book as well as generate funds for it.
On a more personal level, our thanks go, most notably, to our spouses, Anita (married to Dave) and Joan (married to Michael). We are also grateful to our adult and nearly adult children, Hope and Aaron on Daves side and Kristy, Katie, and Rachael on Michaels side. By tuning into their dads preaching when they thought it really worked and by tuning it out many other times, they taught both their fathers the power of preaching and the power of listeners to keep preachers humble.
We are grateful also, it must be said, to each other, since we brought complementary gifts to this project. Dave, with more specialized training in homiletics, preaching-related teaching assignments at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a network of colleagues and friends in the community of homileticians, brought particular awareness of current preaching theory and practitioners. Michael, with more generalized training in rhetoric and communication as well as years of experience as editor and publisher, brought the more technical book-developing skills. The teamwork was rewarding.
Finally we must be sure to thank the various congregations who over the years have sometimes benefited (we hope) from our preaching, have often enough endured our failings, and have provided a training and testing ground for our development and growth as preachers.
David B. Greiser, Telford,
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