Deep Calls to Deep: Eight Years of Soul-Nurturing for Preachers

Deep Calls to Deep, a program to nourish working preachers, began in 2015, funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. Now, as the grant funding comes to an end this fall, it is a good opportunity to look back on what the program has accomplished.

5 adults act out a passage of scripture as part of a Deep Calls to Deep residency

The fundamental principle of Deep Calls to Deep is that preaching is soul-work, and that rejuvenating preachers depends on feeding the whole person—body, mind, and spirit. We offered this nourishment by focusing on four themes:

• the spirituality of preaching (the relationship with God which is the foundation of preaching)
• nurturing the preaching imagination (cultivating the ability to encounter texts and world creatively)
• embodiment (bringing the preacher’s whole self to proclamation)
• community (conveying the conviction that preaching is not a solitary activity but is nourished by relationships).

Since the program started there have been over 150 participants, who have come to VTS for on-campus residencies that offered time for sabbath, study, engagement with the four themes of the program, worship together, and fellowship. The participants also met for a year in small peer groups to preach for each other and receive feedback on their preaching. I have been so moved to see the diligence and passion that fuels these preachers in their vital work, and to see how the communities formed in Deep Calls to Deep have revitalized the participants.

Though the grant funding for this program comes to an end this fall, we are exploring ways for the work and principles of Deep Calls to Deep to continue. VTS is a seminary that values preaching and preachers—after all, the words on our chapel wall are “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel”–and we will keep finding ways to nourish and support working preachers in the challenges and joys of proclamation. Stay tuned!

The Rev. Ruthanna Hooke, Ph.D.
Director, Deep Calls to Deep

Back to all