“At WomanPreach! Inc., we do one thing, and try to do that one thing well. We help preachers preach. We help preachers find focus, voice, process, and courage.”
-Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman
WomanPreach! Inc. was born out of a course taught by Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman at Memphis Theological Seminary. This course was also offered at the University of Memphis in 2006 and 2007, and eventually became a week-long session that she co-led with then Dean of Yale Divinity School, Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes at the Cathedral College of Preachers in 2008, held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. That session, “The Sacred Rhetoric of African American Women,” drew women from various denominational backgrounds and experiences. Attendees were trained to develop and know their own voices for preaching, to engage in learning historical and literary references to draw from, and how to deal with sexism and other marginalizing forces. Women were encouraged to preach for the whole church, especially those who often are dismissed, overlooked, or minimized by preaching that does not take justice issues seriously.
Dr. Bridgeman was encouraged by several attendees, including then Executive Director of The Sister Fund, Rev. Kanyere Eaton, to imagine a way to offer this much-needed space and training on a more consistent basis. During a training session with The Sister Fund, Dr. Bridgeman, accompanied by Rev. Charisse R. Tucker, heard God whispering into existence the ministry that would soon become WomanPreach! Inc. Dr. Bridgeman and Rev. Tucker attended the training at the invitation of Dr. Eaton with only a concept in mind. When the name WomanPreach! Inc. surfaced after hours of brainstorming, the ministry was concrete.
WomanPreach! Inc. is committed to training preachers who often emerge from churches, academic institutions and other spaces that are inhospitable to their vocation and their voice. We provide intimate, practical training and nurturing spaces that empower preachers. Our programming began as a way to train women, and has since grown to include programming for men (Sophie’s Table) and speakers that serve as community organizers and in various other vocational spaces where faith-based, justice-centered proclamation is necessary.
WomanPreach! Inc. acknowledges the socio-political, cultural, and religious context out of which preachers and hearers come and welcomes attendees regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender, class or denominational affiliation.
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