Fasten Your Seat Belts!

by the Rev. Mimsy Jones


Buckle up, friends, because Calvary’s 101st Lenten Preaching Series is about to take off, and the lineup is bursting with brilliant, compassionate preachers.


The depth and breadth of the list is remarkable. Where else but in Calvary’s LPS would you find a Rabbi (Micah Greenstein), an Imam (Anwar Arafat), a Unitarian Pastor (Sam Teitel), a Presbyterian Pastor (George Robertson), several Episcopal priests, and an experienced local news anchor (Joe Birch) in a preaching series?


There are beloved ‘old timers’ who have become part of our Calvary family: the Rev. John Pitzer, associate rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, our neighbor in ministry for twenty years when he was a Dominican friar at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, leads off the series, followed by perennial favorites like poet and peacemaker Pádraig Ó’Tuama,  Church Health founder and ordained Methodist minister Dr. Scott Morris, Sam Teitel, the smart, insightful pastor of Church of the River, Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor, (also known as the Taylor Swift of LPS because the church is packed every time she preaches; the same is true for Rabbi Micah Greenstein, though no one calls him Travis Kelce -yet).


Dr. Catherine Meeks, executive director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing, is a noted scholar, storyteller, and racial healer with a Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology and African American Women’s Lit. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister of the 900-member multiracial congregation in New York City, is known as a human dynamo not to be missed, and writer and poet Cole Arthur Riley, author of the NYT bestseller This Here Flesh, is a riveting preacher. Calvary Rector Scott Walters says that the dialogue between Lewis and Riley on Wednesday evening, March 6, ‘will be a strong pairing of two amazingly gifted talented women; an awesome experience.’


Peggy Jean Craig is a Cumberland Presbyterian minister who pastors a Germantown church dedicated to serving their immigrant and Latinx neighbors. When I told a priest friend that Craig would preach at LPS, her eyes widened: “Oh my gosh, she is an awesome preacher!”


Sarah Condon, an Episcopal priest from Nashville, is co-host of Mockingbird, a robust online reflection space. A funny, gracious woman who writes and preaches about the interaction of Grace and Works Righteousness is a great addition, and so is Channel Five’s news anchor Joe Birch, an active parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church and one who embodies a life of community service.


I am particularly interested to hear from Iman Anwar Arafat in light of the tragic circumstances in Israel and Gaza. I understand that Anwar is gentle, gracious, and truthful, exactly the kind of religious leader our world needs.


Philosopher and theologian Mark Muesse is someone I have always wanted to hear. In his thirty years at Rhodes College, Muesse was a teacher/mentor for students and adults who sought a quiet life of reflection on the varieties of spiritual pathways.


Elizabeth Jemison, associate professor at Clemson, and author of a very good book, Christian Citizens: Reading the Bible in Black and White in the Postemancipation South. A proud Memphian, daughter of Jeanne and Frank Jemison, she now lives in Greenville, SC, where she regularly speaks to congregations about how religion and history shape our worlds.


How we were able to get film writer/director (The Nutty Professor, Evan Almighty) Tom Shadyac for the series I do not know, but his personal story, his ability to blend humor and heart, and the impact he has made on our local community (filmmaker in residence at U of M and teacher at LeMoyne-Owen; founder of Memphis Rox Campus in the Soulsville neighborhood), will attract a crowd.


LPS is live-streamed, but please try to be in the newly ‘uplifted’ Calvary nave to hear the preachers in person. The sound system is fabulous, the interior is bright, spacious, welcoming.


Seeing the preachers in person and greeting many of them in person after they preach makes such a difference, and you will understand more than ever why Calvary’s LPS is one of the most treasured preaching series in the American church today.


You can read more about all of this year’s speakers here.


And don’t miss Wednesday evenings – learn more here.

2 thoughts on “Fasten Your Seat Belts!”

  1. How wonderful! I’ll listen online since I’m in Knoxville until I get to work in Waffle Shop the last two weeks. Can’t wait!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *