Preaching with Power’s 35th Anniversary: Videos, Photos, Stories
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Urban Theological Institute’s Preaching with Power promised to be a series of memorable events, but a late winter snow storm was not the type of event planned as part of the celebration!
The week started well with a new highlight, PWP Sunday!, with worship celebrations at partner congregations throughout the region. Congregations were invited to celebrate Preaching with Power with preaching by their own pastor – including Urban Theological Institute (UTI) graduates – or a guest minister connected to UTI.
Monday, March 13, started as a typical late winter day, with an atypical forecast: a noreaster storm, named “Stella,” was predicted to bring snowfall of up to a foot or more to the Philadelphia region, with the storm starting some time between 8:00 and 10:00 pm, either during or just after the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Knight was scheduled to bring the Word to Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown, where the Rev. Dr. Joseph Q. Jackson, one of the two earliest African American students to graduate from LTSP, served as pastor. (Proceeds of the offering taken at Preaching with Power events go toward the J.Q. Jackson Endowed Scholarship Funds, which supports seminarians in the UTI.) A favorite at past Preaching with Power events, Dr. Knight did not disappoint, bringing a timely message for the current times through her sermon entitled “The Power of a Praying Church.” While her travel to Philadelphia was uneventful, Dr. Knight planned to return to home in Atlanta on Tuesday morning to preach later in the day, and was checking her flight schedule to see if she would be able to leave Philadelphia if the airport was closed. It turned out her airline was the only one which continued to operate during the storm.
Indeed, the storm was looking like it could be one for the record books, blanketing the region with heavy snow and bringing high winds. Both Tuesday events, an anticipated lecture by the Rev. Dr. Cleophus LaRue, Jr. and evening preaching by past Preaching with Power preacher the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, were canceled and Philadelphia started clearing the streets and sidewalks from the 6 inches or so of moisture-laden snow which eventually fell. Pastor Moss plans to return to Philadelphia for a UTI event in fall 2017.
Mt. Airy and the city were still cleaning out from the snow on Wednesday morning, but the Black Sacred Music Concert could not be stopped. Moved to The Brossman Center’s Benbow Hall, the space was filled with music from the LTSP seminary choir under the direction of Dr. Michael Krentz and Sheila D. Booker, who also lent her soprano voice to the music. The Sound of 57th Street Band, Tangled Blue (LTSP students Aimeé and Joel Pakan), and friends filled the hall with celebration of the Black Church music tradition, warming the audience on a cold and snow-covered day.
The snow cover did get in the way of Wednesday’s planned preaching by the Rev. Lucille “CeCee” Mills as host congregation Reformation Lutheran Church, located not far from the seminary, called to cancel the evening. The church has no dedicated parking lot, and the streets in the neighborhood were barely passable and parking spaces, usually enough to accommodate worshippers and guests to a Preaching with Power evening, were filled with snow and neighborhood cars waiting to be shoveled out.
Thursday, the last day of Preaching with Power, was sunny and cold, and the parking lot at host congregation Mt. Tabor African Methodist Episcopal Church was clear and ready for worshippers coming to AME night. Worshippers weren’t disappointed by the music and the night’s Word, brought by AME Bishop Frank Madison Reid, III, who asked the congregation, “Are you a Coward or a Conquerer?” In attendance was UTI co-founder Bishop Andrew J. Willis and his spouse, the Rev. Dr. Gladys Willis, who is a UTI alumna.
As part of the 35th Anniversary of Preaching with Power, all are asked to make the 35 X 12 commitment to give $35 a month for 12 months toward UTI student scholarships as a way of honoring the years of Preaching with Power.
Videos and photos from the week, plus information on the 35 X 12 effort, can be found here.