“Preaching with Power” has helped the Urban Theological Institute to flourish

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Preaching with Power,” an African American preaching forum, began 32 years ago “and really helped put the Urban Theological Institute (UTI) on the map,” recalled the Rev. Dr. Andrew Willis, now 76, and a co-founder of UTI with the late Rev. Dr. Randolph Jones, a United Methodist pastor.

Preaching with Power 2014“UTI was introduced in 1980 to assist African American church leaders expand their credentials by studying part-time at night and on Saturdays while enabling them to continue to hold regular jobs,” Willis said. “While students began enrolling right away, we were finding that many African American leaders had never heard of the program or the seminary. So we started a public program to make people more aware of UTI.” The program, which takes place again this March, invites noteworthy African American preachers to guest pulpits throughout Philadelphia for a special worship services. After each service, students and guests are invited to an afterglow session where they carry on a conversation with the preacher on how the sermon was crafted. Preaching with Power also features a lecture on the seminary campus.

Willis said Preaching with Power has gone a long way toward familiarizing the wider community with the learning opportunity UTI offers. Free-will offerings during worship benefit the J.Q. Jackson Scholarship Fund, assisting students in the UTI Black Church Concentration, according to UTI Director the Rev. Dr. Quintin Robertson.

Preaching with Power is one of three public programs UTI offers, Robertson explained. “In 2010, UTI program celebrated its 30th anniversary,” he said. “That event was so successful we decided to inaugurate a fall lecture and worship program to complement the spring Preaching with Power initiative. The lecture is held on campus, and that same evening the lecturer preaches during worship hosted at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.”

Robertson said most UTI enrollees currently are members of Enon Tabernacle Church. Over the years, 135 UTI matriculants have gone on to graduate with a seminary degree, Willis said.

The third UTI public program is in June. “Ministry Day,” focuses on a topic of interest, and features a plenary with a guest presenter followed by breakout sessions. The Ministry Day is held on LTSP’s campus.

Visit the Preaching with Power 2014 website.