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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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
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’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
Wednesday: Julia Shaffer Atkinson, harp
Friday: Lee Cagle, dulcimer
Friday: Lee Cagle, dulcimer
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
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 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.
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