It was during a Q & A with Fred Craddock, the master preacher and teacher of preachers, following a lecture he had delivered at Vanderbilt Divinity School in the mid 1990s. A retired bishop and friend of mine asked this question: “Where are the great preachers today? We don’t seem to have any Harry Emerson Fosdicks or Martin Luther Kings today.”
The highly regarded and distinguished professor at Candler School of Theology responded something like this: “Well, these are different times and preachers aren’t listened to by the world around us in the same way as when Fosdick and King were preaching. But great preachers are still around.”
He added that the great preachers today are not the ones you see on TV or hear on the radio or read about in the newspapers. They are the unnamed pastors of local congregations, small and large, who Sunday after Sunday enter the pulpit after a busy and turbulent week and faithfully speak the truth borne from immersion in Scripture and the lives of their congregations.
Then Dr. Craddock added, “I suspect that most of the great preachers today don’t have time to write books or do dramatic things that get them in the news. They are too busy getting ready to preach again next Sunday to a world that doesn’t seem to pay any attention; and that’s not easy.”
I was reminded of Dr. Craddock’s comments after hearing two sermons Sunday. One was by Jeff Childress, the pastor at Salem UMC where our family participates. Here is the unedited version of the worship service. The introduction to the Scripture begins at 30 minutes and the sermon at around 40: https://www.facebook.com/Salem-United-Methodist-Church-118087758209677/videos/1589171424747370
The other was the online service from the last congregation I served as pastor, Church Street in Knoxville, TN. The lead pastor and preacher of the day is Catherine Nance: https://www.facebook.com/csumcknoxville/videos/691450538477739
Yes, great preachers are still around! I heard two of them Sunday! Maybe the world needs to pay more attention.