A recent survey conducted and promoted by Baylor University names the “12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world.” While the survey indeed names some effective preachers, the results include only one woman, no women of color, and zero LGBTQ preachers. Yikes!
In light of all this, we here at Nevertheless She Preached have been inspired to compile our own list of preachers we think the English-speaking world needs right now. We gathered the names below from clergy recommendations across the country in an attempt to highlight and promote effective preachers who are rooted in the biblical tradition of prophetic preaching (a criterion conspicuously missing from Baylor’s list). These preachers are delivering a fresh word of God right now in our midst, as they push us toward the gospel message that brings good news to the poor, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18).
These are in no particular order, and this is certainly not a closed list. In fact, we think that turning preaching into a competitive sport is antithetical to the Gospel (and just plain icky). So we’d LOVE to invite you to add to our list by sharing bios for and links to sermons by the preachers you think the world needs to hear! We hope this page will turn into an archive of biblical, prophetic, socially relevant, good-news-for-ALL type preaching that you’ll come back to for inspiration and empowerment again and again.
Rev. Traci Blackmon
by Rev. Kyndall Rothaus
When I heard Reverend Traci Blackmon preach at the Alliance of Baptists Annual Gathering in 2016, I was mesmerized. This is a woman who knows how to proclaim the Gospel. She is truly a prophet in our midst, one whose voice tears down the walls of ignorance and ignites the fire of justice in anyone who has ears to hear.
Traci Blackmon is the Executive Minister of Justice and Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ, and she is the Senior Pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. Blackmon’s leadership in her community after the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, MO made a significant contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement. Reverend Blackmon was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack H. Obama. She was also named 2017 Citizen of the Year by The St. Louis American.
Reverend Blackmon is the founder of the Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational symposium designed to assist women toward spiritual and sexual wholeness, and she is co-founder of “When Women Gather…,” a monthly ecumenical gathering committed to the spiritual growth and development of women. Blackmon also started “Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit,” a mobile outreach program that delivers healthcare to underserved population.
Listen to one of Traci’s sermons here.
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber
by Rev. Natalie Webb
Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran (ELCA) minister and founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, a church that she started while still in seminary. The Washington Post calls her, “a tatted-up, foul-mouthed champion to people sick of being belittled as not Christian enough for the right or too Jesus-y for the left.” Nadia’s obvious badassery and pulls-no-punches communication style combined with her homiletical expertise and commitment to her local congregation make her one of the most effective preachers we know. Rev. Grace Burson adds, “Nadia’s preaching is both profoundly and classically Lutheran and born out of deep and personal struggle and pain, which is why it rings so true.”
In addition to her role as pastor and preacher, Nadia is a prolific author. Her writings include Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (Convergent, 2015), Pastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (Jericho, 2013), and Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television (Seabury 2008), as well as countless articles and essays in numerous publications.
You can listen to Nadia’s sermons here.
Rev. Jasmine Rose Smothers
by Ross Tarpley
Reverend Jasmine Rose Smothers is an elder in the United Methodist Church and currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Atlanta First United Methodist Church in Georgia. With a B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College and a Master of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Smothers has previously partnered with congregations to better equip them for engaging in effective church and community ministry. While serving as the Associate Director for Congregational Vitality through the Office of Connectional Ministries in the United Methodist Church’s North Georgia Conference, she championed initiatives addressing congregational vitality, racial-ethnic ministry, and the development of young clergy. A renowned preacher, speaker, church consultant, and advocate, she has contributed to various publications and is the co-author of Not Safe for Church: The Ten Commandments for Reaching New Generations, with Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr. As a native of Atlanta, Rev. Jasmine is passionate about her community and training both church congregants and leaders alike in what it means to be God’s Church, namely in a post-Civil Rights—and increasingly post-Christian—America. She lives out her passions through service in various commissions and task forces with the United Methodist Church, currently including the Commission on a Way Forward, a denominational effort to re-examine every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. Additionally, she is a Class of 2018 member of LEAD Atlanta, an historic community leadership development program for young professionals to serve the common good. From the pulpit to the civic stage, Rev. Jasmine preaches and lives the transformational Gospel of Jesus Christ, with a dutiful commitment to “equipping the saints for the work of ministry.” Listen to one of her sermons here.
Dr. Irie Lynne Session
by Michelle Shackelford
From childhood, Irie Lynne Session has stood as a beacon of hope. Raised in a public housing sector of New York City, she learned to consider God and the world through the eyes of marginalized and oppressed people. Little did young Irie know the countless ways her lifelong journey would serve to create and shape a new world – a world in which all would belong and all would be made whole.
Irie graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a Bachelor in Science and a focus in social work and completed her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Black Church Studies from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. She earned her Doctor of Ministry at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where she specialized in Transformative Leadership and Prophetic Preaching. Dr. Irie brings to the pulpit years of experience in various fields, including (though not limited to) investigation with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Dallas, pastoral ministry in many contexts, and tireless work with and on behalf of survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
Last month, Dr. Irie joined with fellow Womanist pastors Rev. Yvette Blair-Lavallais and Rev. (and soon to be Dr.) Kamilah Hall Sharp as they and their congregants celebrated six months of worshipping together as a church known as The Gathering – a Womanist Church in Dallas, Texas. The individuals who collectively comprise The Gathering truly live out their tag line, “A Faith Community Where All are Welcome…Really!”
The moment Dr. Irie steps into the pulpit, everyone present has the invaluable opportunity to experience the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit. Each word, thought, and theological statement is carefully considered and craft-fully communicated to a world desperately longing to receive a fresh Word from God. A true prophetess, Dr. Irie faithfully testifies to the God of complete healing and restoration – the God of shalom – for all of Creation. You can find links to Dr. Irie’s preaching here.
Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort
by Sharyl West Loeung
Mihee Kim-Kort is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister and author with degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Colorado in Boulder. She’s currently a PhD student in Religious Studies at Indiana University. The significance and growth of Korean-American churches are often overlooked in the U.S., but its absence in conversation (seminaries, publications, conferences etc) is a grave oversight. These congregations very well may save dying mainline denominations. With this in mind, Mihee Kim-Kort’s importance to homiletics can not be overstated. She disarmingly introduces complex intersectional identities through her engaging narrative approach to preaching. For instance, her first book, Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology speaks to her ability to facilitate an intragroup dialogue within an Asian-American church context while introducing a rich theological context for all readers. The same ethos is evident in her preaching. While she is a valuable voice that understands and speaks to the Korean-American context, her ability transcends audiences. The privileged North American Church needs to be reminded that our Scriptures are most clear when read from the margins. Thus, she is not an effective “Korean-American female preacher” she is an effective preacher for our times and one we sorely need. Listen to one of her sermons here.
Rev. Dr. Katie Hays
by Rev. Katherine Wright
Rev. Dr. Katie Hays is an “effective” preacher for her work preaching for those who call themselves spiritual refugees. Katie was educated at Yale Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary and after twenty years in traditional church ministry, she planted and pastored Galileo Church in Mansfield, Texas where she is the Lead Evangelist now. Galileo Church is an open and affirming LGBTQIA church that meets in the “Big Red Barn,” where church happens in an untraditional space. You can also find her sermons as a podcast called, “That’s What She Said.”
Katie preaches from a stool and uses her biblical interpretation to provide a redemption of the biblical stories for people just finding a home in the church for maybe the first time. In one of her sermons, she describes her experience of falling down in Spring Creek BBQ and seeing God calling her to try another way of doing church. Katie brings scriptural passages to life by reading the bible with true life in an animated and energized way. Katie uses elements of traditional church life and translates it into a justice-seeking, post-modern sacred of the church’s future.
A couple of years ago when Katie was simply gathering people together to start something new, she spoke of knowing that she would take what she learns in the wondering world of millennials and share what she learns with the greater church. What Katie brings to her preaching is an ultimate creativity of having the experience and love for the traditional church and the willingness to try something new to a sustainable, sacred kin-dom of God for the future.
Listen to her sermons here.
Rev. Tuhina Verma Rasche
by Pastor Bre Roberts
There’s a good reason it’s hard to describe the Rev. Tuhina Verma Rasche. She is Indian-American, raised as a Hindu, nudged into life as a follower of Jesus by campus ministry, and she continues to defy categorization as an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As she likes to state, she lives in that in-between space of her hyphens. It is this liminal way of life that makes Tuhina such a gifted preacher. From the pews and pulpits right alongside where we all sit, from spaces, opinions, and habits of our Christian tradition, she uses the power of her hyphenated hermeneutic to point to the places where sin plagues God’s people in the world in the form of racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and so on, because she lives there in her intersection of identities. Tuhina doesn’t limit her preaching to the Sunday morning pulpit. She likes to create ways to interrogate Christianity though her words online and in person, especially the Lutheran branch that we share as colleagues. This includes her online devotionals, created with fellow holy troublemaker Pastor Jason Chesnut, with such titles as “F*ck This Sh*t” and “Shut the Hell Up.” She will be sharing her liminal perspective at the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston this summer with 30,000 high schoolers and their advisors. Tuhina is a preacher who boldly proclaims the broken reality of navigating a faith tradition that doesn’t know what to do with outspoken and unapologetic folks of color, while claiming the liberating good news of Jesus Christ who transforms what is death into life abundant in beloved community. You can find links to her writings and interviews here.
Rev. Allyson Dylan Robinson
by Rev. Zachary Helton
Allyson Dylan Robinson is a senior consultant at Cook Ross, Inc., a group that partners with organizations to create more inclusive leadership and cultures. Allyson most recently served at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington D.C., where she became the first openly transgender person ever to be ordained by a baptist church, and she continues to preach and advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion around the country. She has worked with the Human Rights Campaign and was the first executive director of OutServe-SLDN. Before her career in ministry, she served in the U.S. Army as a Captain. Allyson holds the Master of Divinity from George W. Truett Theological Seminary, which she earned in 2007, as well as an undergraduate degree in physics from West Point.
Allyson’s exceptional preaching is characterized by bold honesty and radical inclusivity. Grounded in a search for God in the midst of life-threatening struggle, her preaching testifies to a real experience of the Divine which she holds in an open palm. Through her sermons, Allyson creates a world that balances grace and conviction. On one side of the coin, her words are hospitably inclusive, giving listeners permission to lean into questions about faith and assuring them that there is room at the table for all. On the other, those same words are unreservedly indicting of all who hold too tightly to assumptions about the Divine that have long resulted in suffering and exclusion in the Christian tradition.
You can hear Allyson’s sermon from the 2017 Nevertheless, She Preached Conference here.
Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer
by Rev. Elaine Dreeben
Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer is the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, D. Thomason Professor of New Testament Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. As a Jamaican-American Pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Aymer has opened the eyes of men and women of many different backgrounds to see and experience God’s liberating word for all people. Her academic work is engaging and sophisticated, but Aymer’s pulpit presence is sublime. The energy and vitality her presence brings, paired with the passion with which she invites hearers of the word to become participants in God’s saving work shines with exuberance, making her an incredibly effective preacher and theologian for our time.
One of the major contributions of Dr. Aymer’s work in both preaching and equipping others to preach, is her teaching and demonstration of Contextual Bible Study. This work is done primarily outside of the pulpit, in helping hearers of the word in small group settings to establish a point of identity, but has massive carry-over into the effectiveness of preaching ministry and is a gift that keeps on giving to the field of preaching and homiletics.
You can hear Maragaret’s sermon from last year’s Nevertheless She Preached conference here.
Bishop Vashti McKenzie
by Rev. Rachel Helgeson
Bishop Vashti McKenzie is a force to be reckoned with. I was first introduced to Bishop Mckenzie at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s graduation ceremony in 2011 when I was told, as the student body president; I would be processing next to her.
I was noticeably nervous because I had read her bio. Bishop McKenzie was the first woman in the African Methodist Episcopal denomination’s 200-year history to be appointed bishop. She also was the first woman President of the Council of Bishops and Chair of the General Conference Commission.
In the midst of my own meekness Bishop McKenzie turned to me as we lined up, humbly asked my name, my story, and reminded me that God was leading this procession and we were part of God’s story by honoring those who were graduating. Her words calmed me down as I stood next to her and later hear her command the room when she preached.
It is not a surprise that she has since commanded other rooms with her calm sense of God leading the procession as the first woman Host Bishop for the AME’s 49th General Conference, serving on President Barack Obama’s Presidential Advisory board, preaching at the annual White House’s Easter Prayer Breakfast, and currently overseeing the 10th AME district (which includes the whole state of Texas).
It is an unequivocal honor to recognize Bishop Vashti McKenzie for her gifts in ministry as a preacher, author, leader, and advisor to people in all stages of their journey of faith. Watch some of her sermons here.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
In my opinion, a list of preachers like this would not be complete if it didn’t include Rev. Dr. William J. Barber. Rev. Barber is a prophet, in the truest sense of the world. His words are challenging, inspiring, and thoughtful. I first became aware of Rev. Barber’s work through is inspiring book Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation. – Rev. Traci Smith
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is the President & Sr. Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival; Bishop with the College of Affirming Bishops and Faith Leaders; Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary; Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and the author of three books.
Rev. Dr. Barber is also the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013.
Rev. Dr. Barber served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, and currently sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors. A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. Rev. Dr. Barber is regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, and The Nation Magazine, among others.
A highly sought after speaker, Rev. Dr. Barber has given keynote addresses at hundreds of national and state conferences.
Bio courtesy of www.breachrepairers.org. To see an example of Rev. Barber’s stellar preaching, go here.
Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis
by Rev. Natalie Webb
Karoline Lewis is an exemplary preacher, professor, pastor to pastors, and fierce supporter of women in ministry. She’s ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and holds the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary. Karoline is also one of the architects of the website, WorkingPreacher.org, where she co-hosts the weekly “Sermon Brainwave” podcast, authors the “Dear Working Preacher” column, and regularly contributes her own scholarship and homiletical insight to the site’s resources. Karoline is a featured preacher at conferences such as the Festival of Homiletics, the Young Clergy Women International, and our very own Nevertheless She Preached! Her preaching is prophetic and practical, uplifting and challenging, artful and authentic.
In addition to preaching, teaching, contributing to pastoral resources online, and being an all-around awesome human being, Karoline is the author of John: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries (Fortress Press, 2014), SHE: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry (Abingdon, March 2016), and countless articles in numerous publications.
Bishop Yvette Flunder
by Rev. Kyndall Rothaus
Bishop Yvette Flunder is the Founder and Senior Pastor of City of Refuge UCC in Oakland California, a congregation that strives to be not just an inclusive community, but a radically inclusive one. The church was founded in 1991 by a group of mostly gay and lesbian Christians and was eventually accepted into the United Church of Christ.
Bishop Flunder is also the Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Both a womanist and reconciling liberation theologian, Bishop Flunder first began ministering to the AIDs community in the 1980s and is now an active voice for the Religion Council of the Human Rights campaign. She teaches at the Pacific School of Theology in Berkeley, California and is active in the National Black Justice Coalition. In addition to her many accomplishments, Bishop Yvette is also known for her remarkable singing voice. In a world that would try to ignore her, Bishop Flunder has made herself heard in ways that are powerful and inspiring.
She is the author of Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology of Homiletic Radical Inclusion. This commitment to radical inclusion marks everything about Bishop Flunder’s life and ministry. You can watch her church services online here.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño
by Rev. Kerry Greenhill
Bishop Minerva Carcaño was the first Hispanic woman elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church, and she continually models courageous leadership with her prophetic preaching and incarnational ministry. Her sermons are characterized by a deep-rooted concern for people on the margins of society and those silenced by the church. Her faithful critique of unjust systems and pastoral care for the poor and poor in spirit are both grounded in her love of Jesus, whom she proclaims with hope and joy. Bishop Carcaño currently serves as the episcopal leader of the San Francisco Area (California-Nevada Conference) of The United Methodist Church, and is an official spokesperson for the United Methodist Council of Bishops on the issue of immigration.
Rev. Michael Bruce Curry
by Rev. Grace Burson
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry is the current Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, and the first African-American to be elected to that office. He holds degrees from Hobart College and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He was elected bishop of North Carolina in 2000 and Presiding Bishop in 2015. Curry is the descendant of enslaved people and sharecroppers in North Carolina on both sides of his family, and though a lifelong Episcopalian, his preaching style is thoroughly in the tradition of his Black church ancestors; he is capable of making even Episcopalians stand up and shout Hallelujah. His preaching is conversational, energetic, intelligent, personal, deeply faithful, frequently hilarious, and always memorable. It consistently calls the listener to the pursuit of justice and peace while affirming the worth and value of every human being as a child of God.
Watch one of his sermons on Jesus and racial justice here.
Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner
by Rev. Dr. Amy Fetterman
Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner is a Presbyterian pastor, currently serving as Pastor for historic Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois. Shannon grew up in Waco, Texas where her father served as a Presbyterian pastor for decades. She attended Trinity University in San Antonio and received her Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary where she was awarded the Columbia Leadership Award. She has served on the Board of Trustees for Union Presbyterian Seminary and as co-chair of the Next Church Strategy Team. Shannon’s sermons have been published in the Journal for Preachers, Lectionary Homiletics, and a variety of online publications.
Shannon has shattered the glass ceilings in preaching and ministry over her career and continues to inspire girls and woman with her prophetic voice. In 2013 interview with Jessica Denson for Presbyterian News Service, she reflected on her achievements, saying: “I know that I stand on the shoulders of women who preceded me. So something that gives me great joy is doing everything that I can to make it easier for the women who follow me. My hope is that little girls will see a woman in the pulpit, know this is normal and that they can do it too.”
Watch one of Shannon’s sermons here.