Online: August 6 – September 24, 2018

Weekly video calls:  Tuesdays 8:00-9:00am CST, and Wednesdays 6:00-7:00pm CST. Participants can come to either session each week. If someone has a *significant* issue making either of those times, or the group comes up with a better time that also works, instructors can work with that. 

In-Person: Saturday, September 8, 2018 at Episcopal House of Prayer, Collegeville

A sermon is a gift we offer those who listen to us.

It’s a gift that melds together God, Scripture, life experience, our listeners, the world, and all of our academic training. It’s a message that proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ, that he died, rose, and brings us into eternal life. The only way this is a gift from the heart is if we know the one we proclaim. We have to know Jesus Christ personally if we’re going to have the integrity to suggest that others will want to know him better, too, and that through him, the world can be transformed.

This is where we start with preaching. This course will focus on Lectio Divina as a personal prayer practice, and as a prayerful means to build an authentic sermon. You will learn to read the text as if you’ve never seen it before, to notice what piques your curiosity and makes you want to dig deeper to learn more,  and then to tell a story about it. This is a way to craft a message that you believe and that others will believe, too.

Preaching is an art form, too, like no other.

Preaching is not a performance, nor is it a persuasive speech, and yet many of the elements of those disciplines are part of effective sermons. They all have clarity of message and purpose; they’re crafted for a particular group of people at a particular time from a particular point of view; they hope to keep the attention of the audience and try to make themselves as easy as possible to follow so no one gets lost along the way.

Preaching does all this, while looking at the gap between God’s invitation to join in building the Kingdom, and all our various refusals to do so. What is it about us that turns God down time and time again? Preaching also explores grace. We turn God down, yet Jesus loves and forgives us anyway. How come? And what difference does it make anyway? These are all aspects of crafting an effective, authentic sermon.

In this course, we will move from listening to God’s word for us to practical methods of offering words of Good News to others in a sermon. We will follow a grid that moves us from Belief Statement (‘What is the Good News I believe?’) and Hope Statement (‘Why does it matter that others believe this?’) to the Human Condition (‘What stands in our way of believing?’) and the Invitation to Transformation (‘What does God want us to say ‘yes’ to?’).

At the end of this course, you’ll have had enough practice with these tools that you’ll be able to hear the parts of sermons that work and don’t work; continue to use these tools on your own and with others; and know how to continue to develop your sermon craft.


This group will meet and post regularly in a closed Facebook group, ECMNHomiletics2018. You should be able to find it and request membership. If you have any difficulties, you can send a message via Facebook to the instructor (Cathie Caimano) and she will help you. If you are completely flummoxed by this, fear not! Simply email Cathie at frcathie@freerangepriest.org, and she will walk you through.

This class will meet via Zoom every Tuesday (starting 8/7) from 8:00am-9:00am CST, and every Wednesday (starting 8/8) from 6:00pm-7:00pm CST.

You are only required to attend ONE class per week. The dual times are for your convenience – hopefully you can make one or the other each week (you don’t have to pick one time and stick with it, if Tuesday am works one week, and Wednesday pm works another, you can switch at your leisure). We would like to see you each week, though! If both of these times create a consistent, insurmountable difficulty for you, please contact the instructor and we will work it out.

All Zoom meetings will originate in the Facebook group (just show up there and click to begin!). The meetings will be recorded and available after the class has ended.

There will be NO ONLINE CLASS the week of September 3-7 (no class 9/4 or 9/5) because you will be meeting with the Rev. Dr. Lisa Cressman, Founder and Chief Steward of Backstory Preaching, in person at the House of Prayer in Collegeville, MN.


Each week you will be asked to participate in online class for one hour, watch a short video (posted in Moodle and in the Facebook group), and produce a short video in the Facebook group (via FB live, or using your phone). Please do not be daunted by the technology learning curve (if you have one!), we are there for you every step of the way – in fact, we think of the tech training as an extra added bonus to the class!

A five-minute homily video will be required for the final project.


We will follow the format of, and strongly suggest students procure, Backstory Preaching: Integrating Life, Spirituality, and Craft by Lisa Cressman. It is available through Amazon, and also at BackstoryPreaching.com.

Also recommended, but not used directly in class:

Home by Another Way, Barbara Brown Taylor.  Cambridge, MA (Cowley Press), 1999. The Transforming Power of Lectio Divina: How to Pray with Scripture, Maria Tasto.

New London, CT (Twenty-third Publications), 2013.


The Rev. Catherine (Cathie) Caimano (online class) 

Cathie is a priest of 20 years in the Diocese of North Carolina. She has served parishes in New York City; Durham, NC; and Wichita, KS, and on the staff of the then Bishop of North Carolina, Michael B. Curry. Since 2016, she is a Free Range Priest – teaching, coaching, and consulting with clergy and congregations building church in the digital world. She is the author of Free Range Priest: Ordained Ministry Re-imagined in the 21st Century; she serves on the leadership team of Backstory Preaching, and this is her 3rd Homiletics 1 course taught at ECMN.


The Rev. Dr. Lisa Cressman (‘in-person’ day only) 

Lisa is a priest of over 25 years, canonically resident in Minnesota (living in Houston), and she is the Founder and Chief Steward of Backstory Preaching, a vision that literally woke her up one night and is now very much a reality.

Lisa is the author of ecourse Craft an Effective Sermon by Friday, and Backstory Preaching: Integrating Life, Spirituality, and Craft. She oversees a year-long mentorship program, several preaching classes and camps, and two subscription communities, as she continues to foster the growth of spiritually-grounded, practically-oriented, effective sermons for everyone. This is her 3rd year teaching Homiletics 1 at ECMN.


Required materials:

  • A Bible
  • A good internet connection
  • A Facebook account

Let us know if you need help with any of those things!

Cost: $300

Register here.

First course? Click here to register for free!

Students, access your Moodle course page here.

Comments from previous participants:

The weekly zoom meetings were great! I really appreciated the Backstory approach: if we’re not experiencing the good news, we can’t be authentic in sharing it.

Using the Zoom video ‘conferencing’, the almost ‘in-person’ class sessions were meaningful, instructive, and personal. The use of the personal video making was a challenge at first but proved instructive in itself, and the results were even more so. Comments from peers and from the instructor were helpful.