By Nathan White, VBMB Web Minister
Twenty women who are ministers gathered May 1 at Crozet Baptist Church for “Pumps in the Pulpit.”
Sponsored by the Spence Network, the preaching workshop was designed to help participants find their voice and continue professional development in their ministerial careers.
John Chandler, Spence Network Leader, said that “In the broadest sense, we want to give women who preach an opportunity to find their voice and to create an environment where they can receive ‘unjunked’ feedback of who they are as preachers.”
The majority of participants were Baptists from all over the Commonwealth, with even one participant hailing from North Carolina. Other participants represented the African Methodist Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Church of Christ.
Professor Kate Burke, a professor at the University of Virginia and professional voice coach, led several sessions for participants.
During the morning session she walked them through a New Lectio Activity and vocal exercises to improve inflection, breathing, and presentation.
Professor Burke has worked with several groups of Virginia Baptist ministers in the past. She also provides voice coaching consultation for Charlottesville-area television broadcasters.
Rev. Jenny Call, chaplain at Hollins University, said that what intrigued her about Professor Burke’s approach was “preaching from the perspective of drama. I hadn’t considered that before.”
At lunch, participants broke into two small groups, rotating through two sessions. One session was a homiletics workshops, where participants offered a short sermon. Afterwards, Professor Burke and their peers gave constructive feedback. The other session offered participants a contemplative journaling and discussion exercise.
“What I like is that participants can engage with Scripture more intentionally and give more focus on how they voice it,” Chandler said.
Throughout the day, participants visited and got to know one another.
“Mutual support is so important to this group,” said Rev. Colleen Swingle-Titus, co-pastor of Crozet Baptist Church and host for the event.
Laura McDaniel, Networking Catalyst for Spence Network, added that “we wanted to offer participants the opportunity to get to know other women they may not have previously known.”
“Yes, we are hoping to build a network of women who preach.” Chandler said.