Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, LTS Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship, and Dr. Richard Voelz, Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Union Presbyterian Seminary, have secured a grant from The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion to study diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Academy of Homiletics.

“Our guild has been addressing the task of unmasking homiletical whiteness, and this grant will allow us to see what difference that effort is making in the teaching of preaching,” said Dr. Schade. “I’m looking forward to working with our colleagues, Kenyatta R. Gilbert and HyeRan Kim-Cragg, who will serve as our senior consultants, and Amanda Wilson Harper and Wayne Thompson, who will serve as our research consultants.”

Through both qualitative and quantitative research methods, Dr. Schade and Dr. Voelz, along with four project consultants and four doctoral students in homiletics, will analyze and assess how AOH members have emphasized diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching since the Academy’s emphasis on “unmasking white preaching” began. In 2018, the AOH launched a multi-year effort to understand and act upon the ways whiteness has systematically impacted the research, practice, and teaching of preaching, especially since AOH’s leadership and membership has traditionally privileged white, mainline Protestant voices since its founding.

“We are grateful to The Wabash Center for its investment in our work to understand the ways that the teaching and learning of preaching among members of the Academy of Homiletics are systematically entangled with whiteness and white supremacy, to analyze what progress we as a guild have made since 2018, and to assess what gaps and obstacles remain,” Dr. Voelz said.

“The data we gather from this study will be useful across a wide cross-section of theological education as well as the Christian church in America,” Dr. Schade said. “For example, this grant will equip professors of preaching to either start or further their efforts to decenter whiteness and attend to the reconstruction of preaching that fully embraces diversity in all its forms.”

Dr. Voelz and Dr. Schade hope to use the $5,000 grant to cause a ripple effect on the wider church so preachers will be better equipped to serve their congregations and proclaim the liberating word of the gospel that seeks justice, restoration, and healing from systemic racism.

Dr. Schade also received a Wabash grant in 2019 for “Dialogue in the ‘Purple Zone’: Pedagogies for Civil Discourse in Online and On-site Settings.” This project explored the use of deliberative dialogue as a pedagogical tool for facilitating difficult conversations in online and on-site settings with seminary students, clergy, and laity for the purpose of encouraging civic engagement within theological education and the larger church. It focused on techniques of teaching civil discourse to create a “purple zone” within the red-blue divide.

The Wabash Center seeks to enhance and strengthen education in theology and religion in theological schools, colleges, and universities in the United States and Canada.