Past Workshops

Audio recordings of past workshops are available through the Center. Call or email us.

March 6, 2017
Novel Preaching: Fiction Writing Strategies for Sermons
Reverend Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie
Rev. Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie, Director of the Center for Preaching Excellence, Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, will bring a workshop on “Novel Preaching: Fiction Writing Strategies for Sermons.” She will suggest how you can borrow the best practices of novelists to craft sermons that gain and maintain listener attention. Participants will practice being attentive to aspects of story (conflict, dialogue, scene) in our inner lives (inscape), outer lives (landscape) and the biblical text (textscape). Dr. McKenzie calls this habit KFN (Knack for Noticing), and she will demonstrate how that habit shapes sermons that speak to both mind and heart.
Novel Preaching: Fiction Writing Strategies for Sermons

The workshop borrowed the best practices of novelists for crafting sermons that gain and maintain listener attention. Participants practiced being attentive to aspects of story (conflict, dialogue, scene) in our inner lives (inscape), outer lives (landscape) and the biblical text (textscape). Dr. McKenzie calls this habit KFN (Knack for Noticing), and she demonstrated how that habit shapes sermons that speak to both mind and heart.

October 3, 2016
Who is your congregation? 
Reverend Jerry Herships 

Jerry’s story is a familiar one: Former bartender/stand-up comic and mall Santa hears God’s call to leave the bright lights of show biz and dedicate his life to doing the Lord’s work. You’ve heard it a million times...

Jerry was born in Detroit and lived in both L.A. and Orlando, working in radio, T.V., film. During Jerry’s stand-up career, he worked with Dick Clark, Jerry Seinfeld and Olympia Dukakis and was a contract writer for Jay Leno. He earned his Master's of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology and was ordained in the United Methodist Church in 2009. He was appointed to plant a new church, AfterHours Denver, in the downtown metro area, focusing on the poor and spiritually independent. He is Chief Love Monger and Lead Spiritual Entrepreneur of that faith & action community. AfterHours Denver currently hands out food, water, and communion to 700+ people each week in Civic Center Park. In recent years, AfterHours has been written about in the Denver Post, Denver’s 5280 Magazine, and has been profiled on a number of network affiliates.

Jerry was recently honored to receive Iliff School of Theology’s first ever Innovation in Ministry award. His first book LAST CALL, was recently published by Westminster John Knox.

March 7, 2016

I Will Make a New Covenant: Jeremiah and Survival

Dr. Kathleen O'Connor

Renowned theologian Dr. Kathleen O’Connor led a preaching workshop earlier in March at The Craddock Center in Cherry Log, Georgia. Participants included clergy and laypeople primarily from the Southeast, including some who had studied under Dr. O’Connor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, at which she is Professor of Old Testament, Emerita.

As in many of her books and journal articles, O’Connor tackled difficult theological topics directly: invasion, conquest, dispersion, sorrow, loss, and catastrophe. She guided discussion on how Old Testament prophets, particularly Jeremiah, made sense of the disasters that befell them and still felt connected to an all-powerful God. Participants also explored how a prophet could reassure a people devastated by disaster so that there was meaning and purpose in the desolation.

O’Connor shared that her studies of recent large-scale tragedies, deaths, and dislocations had opened up the book of Jeremiah in ways she could not have imagined. She displayed an image of “Guernica,” by Pablo Picasso, which depicts the chaos and destruction of war. She made the point that violence often overwhelms the senses and leaves survivors not only traumatized, but mute. Typical effects of traumatic violence also include a shutting down of the capacity to feel, to process, and to mourn. O’Connor stated that many victims of abuse wrongly blame themselves so that their brains can at least give cause to a catastrophic effect. It is the difficult role of the prophet, O’Connor said, to keep a dialogue going between God and His people, for the time when they are ready to begin to make sense of what has happened.

October 5, 2015

I love to tell the story: but are they hearing what I'm saying?

Rev. Dr. Richard F. Ward

It seems appropriate that the first workshop held in our new “old” home at 186 Fred Craddock Drive should be led by the man who is the Fred B. Craddock Professor of Homiletics and Worship at Phillips Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Richard F. Ward.

With expertise in preaching, storytelling, and theology relating to theatre and the arts, Dr. Ward guided conversation around the place of storytelling in preaching and how the art of the storyteller helps in communicating what we want to say. You may listen to Dr. Ward as he engages with scripture through performance. Several chapel recordings are available at

Dr. Ward earned a PhD from Northwestern University, a Master of Fine Arts in drama from Trinity University, and a Master of Arts in religion at Christian Theological Seminary. He has been on faculty at Phillips Theological Seminary since 2010 and prior served at Iliff School of Theology and the Yale School of Divinity. Alongside Mike Graves, Dr. Ward assembled more than 200 stories by Dr. Craddock into Craddock Stories (Chalice Press, 2001). His latest book, coauthored with David A. Trobisch, is entitled Bringing the Word to Life: Engaging the New Testament through Performing It (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2013). Other titles include Speaking of the Holy: The Art of Communication in Preaching (Chalice Press, 2001) and Speaking from the Heart: Preaching With Passion (Wipf & Stock Pub., 2001). Dr. Ward is a member of the Academy of Homiletics and the International Network of Biblical Storytellers. He was recently a speaker at the 2015 Festival of Homiletics in Denver.


March 2, 2015

Beginnings to Begin Again: Genesis for a Suffering People
Dr. Kathleen M. O'Connor

Dr. Kathleen M. O'Connor led the Spring 2015 Preaching Workshop, held at Cherry Log Christian Church in Cherry Log. During the workshop, Dr. O'Connor examined the book of Genesis in relation to the community forwhich it was most likely put into its final form: the people of Judah who survived the destruction of their nation by the Babylonian Empire. As stated by O'Connor, "They and their parents survived violent trauma and disaster. Genesis helps them reflect on their traumatic past, see their barren present, and, in a process of healing, promises a future of abundant overflowing new life."

In addition to an overview of Genesis, workshop participants were guided to look closely at the flood story (Gen 6-9) and stories about Abraham and his Unholy family (Gen 12-22).

The workshop guided preachers to find material for their ministries, to see connections with the sufferings among their own people, and/or to gain insight and compassion for other suffering peoples.

Kathleen M. O’Connor is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Emerita, at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. She has taught in local churches, community groups, and given courses in Central America, Thailand, Japan, and Ireland.

Dr. O'Connor's publications include Jeremiah: Pain and Promise (Fortress, 2011), Lamentations and the Tears of the World (Orbis Press, 2002), which received first prize in scripture from the Catholic Press Association, 2003, Job (Liturgical Press, 2013), The Confessions of Jeremiah (Scholars Press, 1988), Troubling Jeremiah, co-editor (Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), and The Wisdom Literature (Liturgical Press, 1990).

Currently, Dr. O'Connor is studying themes of new life for a Genesis commentary to be published by Smith & Helwys.


October 6, 2014

"A Hart Cheareing and Affecting Surmond:" Appalachian Preaching--Global Implications
Bill J. Leonard

The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard will lead the fall Preaching Workshop on October 6 in Cherry Log. Dr. Leonard is the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and Professor of Church History at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. His research focuses on American religion, Baptist studies, and Appalachian religion.

His lecture will examine elements of the content, theology and practice characteristic of classic Appalachian preaching and preachers and their implications for the larger church, present and future. It asks: What is the nature and history of preaching in Appalachian Protestant pulpits? How did such preaching impact and how was it impacted by Appalachian culture(s)? How do current, perhaps irreversible, cultural transitions in Appalachian religious communities create challenges that mirror such transitions throughout American Protestantism? Might the 'voice' of the Appalachian pulpit inform the church's preaching here and now, then and there? Dr. Leonard has authored dozens of books and articles, including the latest due out this October, A Sense of the Heart: Christian Religious Experience in the U. S. Other titles include Baptists in America (2012) and Christianity in Appalachia (1999). He writes a biweekly column entitled, "Can I Get a Witness?" for


March 3, 2014

Preaching As Exaggeration | Fred B. Craddock

Preaching Workshops have been part of The Craddock Center for over 12 years. In the beginning, local pastors of small Appalachian churches were invited to spend the day with Dr. Fred B. Craddock during workshops with themes such as "The Preacher as Listener" or "What Do I Do with My Old Sermons?" or "From Start to Finish." These workshops have taken place in Cherry Log as well as on the road...back in 2004, for example, Dr. Craddock delivered nearly a dozen workshops in small churches throughout four states in Southern Appalachia.

When Dr. Craddock retired (for the fourth time), the Center began inviting prominent preachers and preacher teachers from all over the country to lead the workshops in Cherry Log. These events, supported then and now by a grant from the Cousins Foundation, have been

successful. But this year, on March 3, 2014, The Craddock Center returns to its roots. Dr. Craddock himself will once again lead the March Preaching Workshop, which carries the theme “Preaching as Exaggeration.” He personally invites pastors of small Appalachian

Dr. Craddock has been named one of the most influential preachers of the 20th century. He is Bandy Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Preaching and New Testament in the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He is author of over two dozen books, including Reflections on My Call to Preach: Connecting the Dots, Craddock on the Craft of Preaching, and his latest, A Taste of Milk & Honey, which both entertains through his characteristic storytelling and chronicles the history of The Craddock Center, the nonprofit he founded with his wife, Nettie. Dr. Craddock resides in Cherry Log, is Director Emeritus of the Center, and remains an active member of the Board of Directors. congregations to attend and continue the tradition.


OCTOBER 7, 2013

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine teaches Christian ministers how to read the New Testament. As a scholar who is Jewish and a member of an orthodox synagogue, this has presented her with a lifetime of opportunity to study and share both Jewish and Christian biblical traditions. She thoughtfully considers what they meant in the context in which they were written and over time, including how different traditions have interpreted the texts in the 1st century and beyond. Her lecture for the 2013 Fall Preaching Workshop was entitled “Ten Things Jews wish Christians Understood about Jesus.” It is sure to provoke thought and to delight.

After hearing from Dr. Levine about common misunderstandings of Jesus and Judaism that find their way into preaching, Rev. Dr. William Brosend explored preaching strategies. The conversation was designed to help preachers to avoid and to correct such mistakes as well as to address biblical passages that have long been used to perpetuate these misunderstandings.

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine is Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies; E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies; and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. She is author of The Jewish Annotated New Testament and The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus and coauthor of The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us, among others.

Rev. Dr. William F. Brosend is Professor of Homiletics at the School of Theology in Sewanee. His most recent publication is The Preaching of Jesus: Gospel Proclamation, Then and Now.


MARCH 4, 2013

Will be led by Jack Perkins, an accomplished TV and radio veteran with a television presence familiar to millions of viewers. Now you may be wondering why The Craddock Center would invite anyone other than a preaching professor to present a preaching workshop. Well, you need to attend the workshop to experience the answer. When Dr. Craddock met Jack Perkins and read his soon to-be-published memoir, Finding Moosewood, Finding God: What Happened When a TV Newsman Abandoned His Career for Life On An Island, he knew you needed to meet him also.

Come hear Jack Perkins “tell the best story this old newsman ever had to report!” Breakfast will begin at 9:00, lecture at 9:30, and lunch at noon at Cherry Log Christian Church.

The Craddock Center | PO Box 69 | Cherry Log, GA 30522 | 706-632-1772