When Good News is Harder to Find: Preaching in the Wake of Trauma

August 3, 2022 : 10:00 - 11:30 am by Zoom

Whether due to gun violence, natural disasters, or the impact of public health crises, mass trauma impacts almost every community in the United States. It is not a matter of if communities and the preachers that serve them will face incidents of mass or communal trauma, but when. Though language often fails us in the midst of trauma, preachers and religious leaders are nevertheless called upon to “offer a Word” to a hurting community.

In this workshop, we will consider together both the individual and communal impacts of trauma. Understanding the nature of trauma, we will then turn to think about how our preaching might faithfully and helpfully respond to such experiences, both in preaching content and sermon form. Finally, we will consider wisdom from our biblical ancestors that might help us to navigate these challenging days and offer preachers and community leaders insight on how to accompany communities through seasons marked by trauma.

Facilitator: The Rev. Dr. Kimberly Wagner

The Rev. Dr. Kimberly Wagner serves as the Assistant Professor of Homiletics in the Axel Jacob and Gerda Maria (Swanson) Carlson Chair in Homiletics at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Though currently serving among the Lutherans and educated among United Methodists (Candler School of Theology and Emory University), Dr. Wagner is ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Her current writing and work focus on preaching and ministry in the midst and wake of trauma, particularly thinking about collective trauma, the role of the community, and the resources of our Scriptures and faith to respond to these moments.

Dr. Wagner’s forthcoming book (Westminster John Knox Press) is about preaching in the wake of mass trauma, particularly thinking about mass violence, natural disasters, and public health crises. When not teaching, writing, or meeting over Zoom, she enjoys biking, tinkering on the piano, and walks along the lake with her dog, Toby.

Register Here

This workshop is part of a monthly workshop series on preaching, the first Wednesday of every month from 10:00 to 11:30 am. For an overview of the series, click here.