Homiletics professor accepts call to Vanderbilt
Louisville Seminary | May 23, 2003
After 17 years teaching homiletics and worship at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Dr. John S. McClure has accepted the call to lead one of the few doctoral programs in the field of homiletics in this country, as the Charles G. Finney Professor of Homiletics at Vanderbilt University School of Divinity. His new position will begin in Nashville, Tenn., June 2003.
In a letter to the Seminary community, Acting President Milton J Coalter said, “the selection of John McClure for this position is an acknowledgement of his remarkable expertise, a sign of Vanderbilt Divinity School’s good eye for talent, and a compliment to Louisville Seminary where his substance and promise was first recognized. John has taught Louisville Seminary students and innumerable pastors how faithfully to preach the word and administer the sacraments – the two key marks of a true church of Jesus Christ, according to John Calvin.”
McClure came to Louisville Seminary in 1986 to teach preaching and worship, and over the years, he developed a specialty in the relationship between philosophies of language and homiletic theory. During his tenure, he perfected a model of “collaborative preaching,” a method which includes laity in sermon brainstorming and development. This methodology is outlined in his book, The Roundtable Pulpit: Where Leadership and Preaching Meet (Abingdon, 1995), which has inspired many preachers and colleagues within the Church to incorporate this process in their own sermon preparations.
Since 1999, McClure has led the Seminary’s certificate program in homiletic supervision, which was initiated by Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology Dr. Grayson Tucker and funded through the generosity of alumnus Donald W. Deane (B.D. ’49), now deceased. McClure has helped to fashion this program into an important means for strengthening preaching in congregations and establishing a network of homiletic mentoring within the Church.
In an effort to help train confident, articulate, visionary preachers and to contribute excellent liturgists to the church, McClure has written for many audiences. The breadth of his contributions can be recognized through his publications alone, including The Four Codes of Preaching: Rhetorical Strategies (Fortress, 1991); Proclamation 5: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons for the Church Year, Pentecost 1 (Fortress, 1994); Best Advice for Preaching (Fortress, 1997), Telling the Truth: Preaching about Sexual and Domestic Violence (United Church Press, 1998), with Nancy J. Ramsay; and his most recent Otherwise Preaching: A Postmodern Ethic for Homiletics (Chalice Press, 2001).
McClure earned degrees from the University of the South (B.A.); University of Glasgow, Scotland (M.Phil.); Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.); and Princeton Theological Seminary (Ph.D.). He is a member of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), the editorial board and a contributing reviewer for Homiletic, and is currently President of the North American Academy of Homiletics.
Prior to his call to Louisville Seminary, McClure was the pastor of Ensley Highland Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala. In Louisville, he has been an active member of his local congregation and has taught the youth Sunday school class there for a number of years.
In a recent farewell gathering, McClure described the Seminary as an environment in which “someone with no real teaching experience” could be forged into an individual able to claim that he “will not rest until he has somehow helped to improve the quality of homiletical education” students of preaching here and around the world.
“Preaching is the great meeting place of all the theological disciplines: Bible, doctrine, philosophical theology, pastoral theology, Christian education, and so on,” he once said. “I wanted to teach homiletics because I believe the future of the Church and its mission begins with first rate preaching. The greatest satisfaction comes when I am able to help students connect with their deepest identity as preachers of the God’s Word.”