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Lenten Preaching Series

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Lenten Preaching Series

12:0512:40 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays

Live Stream and In-Person Preachers

Three of our preachers will appear in-person; all of them will be live streamed.

Mr. Jemar Tisby, the Rev. Meredith Day Hearn, and the Rev. Kirk Whalum will appear in-person in Calvary’s nave. Attendees must sign up in advance using the link below. All sermons will be live-streamed on Calvary’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, and website.

Calvary Episcopal Church launches its 98th annual Lenten Preaching Series and Waffle Shop Friday, Feb. 19. Lent 2021 breaks with tradition with some speakers participating via recorded messages from a physical distance. Attendees for in-person services will sign up in advance, wear masks, and sit spaced apart from others.


A new addition for 2021—a line-up of local musicians specializing in everything from the hammer dulcimer to the harp—will play preludes and meditation music to a mostly empty house. These performers are sponsored by Calvary’s Friends of Music.


All of this year’s preaching series will be live-streamed at 12:05 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays on Calvary’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, and website. Three of our speakers will appear in-person in Calvary’s nave. You may sign up to attend these services using the link above.

Order books for this year’s speakers through Novel

Novel bookstore, a fantastic, locally-owned bookstore in Memphis, has created a page on their website that lists books from this year’s speakers. Use the button below to place your order that can be shipped, picked up in-store, or brought to your car through curbside delivery.

This year’s speakers

The Rev. Dan Matthews
Retired Episcopal Priest, Asheville, NC
Friday, February 19

The Rev. Dan Matthews is a consistent favorite at Calvary’s Lenten Preaching Series. His preaching is inspired by powerful and meaningful stories like the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. In light of these stories, Matthews pushes us to recognize when genuine blessings come our way. He believes that these moments of being “kissed by God” are more than being in the right place at the right time. His spiritual discipline of holy love is modeled after his mother’s ability to love with abandon. This year Matthews will preach on “What Jesus Means By Loving Your Neighbor."

Musician: Barrie Cooper, Concertmaster, Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Margaret Renkl
Writer, Nashville, TN
February 24 ~ Noon and Lent After Dark

Margaret Renkl is the author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss. She is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear each Monday. Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. In her address at Calvary, Renkl ties the gospel of Luke with our place and responsibility to the natural world. “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” When Jesus offered this message of reassurance to his disciples, he wasn’t talking about climate change. But for us these words can offer more than comfort — they can also inspire engagement with the imperiled natural world. Consider the lilies and make a commitment to save the world they need to survive. To save the planet we need to survive.

Musician: Jeanne Elting Simmons is a classically trained flutist with 40 years experience playing for church’s, regional theaters, special events and for Creative Aging Agency. For more info: memphisflute.com

The Rev. James Lawson
Retired United Methodist minister and civil rights activist, Los Angeles, CA
Friday, February 26

The Rev. James Lawson has spent a lifetime studying and practicing nonviolent resistance to injustice. As a draft resister who went to prison and a missionary who also studied the methods of Gandhi while in India, Lawson was well-positioned for an integral role in the American civil rights movement. Along with others, he helped to plan nonviolent demonstrations for Nashville students protesting segregated lunch counters. A friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Lawson was heavily involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. While continuing his civil rights work, Lawson also served as the pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles until his retirement in 1999.

Musicians: Singers from Lemoyne-Owen College; Gavin Wigginson, director

Mr. Jemar Tisby
Scholar, writer, podcaster, and historian
Wednesday, March 3 ~ Noon and Lent After Dark

Dynamic, significant, and prophetic, Jemar Tisby is a public historian with the ability to explore racial justice solutions and cultural conversations that compel listeners to action. He provides audiences with richly-informed explorations, unflinching moral insight, and clear paths forward. He has recently taken the position of CEO of The Witness Incorporated, a nonprofit organization he founded, which is dedicated to Black uplift from a Christian perspective. Jemar is the author of two books, The Color of Compromise—a New York Times bestseller—and How to Fight Racism, released in January 2021. His writing has also been featured in the Washington Post, CNN, and The Atlantic among others. Tisby is currently a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.

Over nearly 20 years at LPS, Marcus Borg challenged assumptions and nurtured lifelong friendships at Calvary. After his death in 2015, several of those friends began an endowment in order to continue his legacy of intellectual and spiritual inquiry. Marcus Borg Endowed Speakers reflect Marcus's willingness to challenge sacred texts and ideas while still remaining grounded in them.

Jemar Tisby came to the Christian faith through a door he never expected: a theologically conservative white evangelical church. As a new Christian and a Black man, Jemar studied the words and actions of Jesus. This led to the desire to understand the history of the Christian church and particularly the ways in which it has been complicit in systemic racism. Jemar’s scholarly work provokes reflection and calls readers to actions that promote justice in line with the way of Jesus. Keeping scriptural texts close, Jemar’s work is reminiscent of Marcus Borg’s: provocative, compelling, transformative.

Donate to the Marcus Borg Endowed Speaker fund.


Musician: Michelle Pellay-Walker, Assistant Principal Violist of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, an adjunct instructor at Southwest Tennessee Community College, and a 17-year veteran of Calvary Choir's alto section

The Rev. Meredith Day Hearn
Priest-in-Charge, The Indian Hill Church, Cincinnati, OH
Friday, March 5

A native Texan and Tennessee transplant, The Rev. Meredith Day Hearn is an Evangelical turned Episcopal priest. Graduating from Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music in 2015, Meredith’s love of poetry, songwriting, and storytelling deeply informs her understanding of God in the world. Her preaching seeks to investigate the sanctity of the ordinary, highlighting life’s inevitable suffering alongside its propensity for great beauty. After serving at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal in Memphis, Meredith recently moved to Cincinnati where she serves as priest-in-charge of The Indian Hill Church.


Musicians: Jackson Hearn, tenor and Kristin Lensch, organ

Pádraig Ó Tuama
Poet and podcast host, Northern Ireland
Wednesday, March 10 ~ Noon and Lent After Dark and Friday, March 12

Pádraig Ó Tuama’s interests lie in language, violence, and religion. Having grown up in a place that has a long history of all three (Ireland, yes, but also Europe) he finds that language might be the most redeeming of all three of these. In language, there is the possibility of vulnerability, of surprise, of the creative movement towards something as yet unseen. He is inspired by any artist of words: from Krista Tippett to Lucille Clifton; from Patrick Kavanagh to Emily Dickinson; from Lorna Goodison to Arundhati Roy. Ó Tuama loves words — words that open up the mind, the heart, the life. For instance — poem: a created thing.



Wednesday: Julia Shaffer Atkinson, harp

Friday: Lee Cagle, dulcimer
Lee Cagle has been performing and teaching the mountain dulcimer and other folk instruments throughout the southeast since 1988. LeeCagleDulcimers.com

Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Rabbi, speaker, author, Murfreesboro, TN
Wednesday, March 17 ~ Noon and Lent After Dark

As a rabbi drawn to Hasidism and Kabbalah, and a practitioner of Perennial Wisdom found at the mystic heart of all religions, Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s message is simple: Alles iz Gott: everything is a manifesting of God. He is inspired by anyone who dares to step outside the safety of sacred opinion to experience and perhaps utter Truth beyond “ism” and ideology. Love is a reaction to images we hold of others rather than to the others themselves. With this in mind, Shapiro prefers to meet others as they are rather than love them as he imagines them to be.


Musician: Josh Keller, viola da gamba
Joshua is a free-lance musician, director of music at Holy Cross Episcopal (Olive Branch), and adjunct instructor at the University in Memphis, specializing in early music.

The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams
Professor of Old Testament, Virginia Theological Seminary
Friday, March 19

The Rev. Dr. Fentress-Williams lives at the intersection of the church and the academy. In addition to her tenured teaching position at Virginia Theological Seminary, she serves as the Senior Assistant to the Pastor for Teaching and Preaching at the Alfred Street Baptist Church. Dr. Fentress-Williams’ published work reflects her interest in a literary approach that highlights the multiple voices in scripture. She recently published a commentary on the book of Ruth for the Abingdon Old Testament Commentary Series and was a contributor and Old Testament Editor for the CEB Women’s Bible. In May 2019, Dr. Fentress-Williams delivered a message of challenge and celebration at the ordination of the bishop of West Tennessee, the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf.

Musicians: Gavin Wigginson & Friends

The Rev. Kirk Whalum
Minister and grammy-winning saxophonist, Memphis, TN
Wednesday, March 24 ~ Noon and Lent After Dark

The Rev. Kirk Whalum believes that music is the language that communicates across borders. Music can break and enter into a person’s soul. The difference is a musician is not there to take; he’s there to give, to leave something. Whalum’s saxophone style blends his Memphis roots with Houston nightclubs and Parisian concert halls. When not on tour, he serves on the faculty of the Visible Music College in Memphis.

Rabbi Micah Greenstein
Senior Rabbi at Temple Israel, Memphis
Friday, March 26

The senior rabbi at Temple Israel, Micah Greenstein loves Torah no matter where it comes from. "Torah" in a broad Jewish sense refers to the teachings and wisdom of Judaism, but he treasures insights on goodness, love, justice, shalom, and compassion from every faith tradition and every reflection of God's unity. What inspires Greenstein most about the Jewish legacy he lives and teaches is that it is not simply a tale of enduring persecution and surviving hate, but rather a 4,000-year-old joyful embrace of faith, family, and the blessing that comes with being God's partner in healing a broken world.

Musician: Scott Moore, Principal Trumpet, Memphis Symphony Orchestra

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