After retiring as rector of St. Bartholomew’s in Manhattan, Buddy Stallings wondered what church for him would look like going forward, even pondering life with very little church involvement. To his delight, no matter how maddening the church sometimes can be, the church—all it is and longs to be—continues to live at the center of his life. As a priest, his path to God has been most vividly illuminated by the experience of God in others: we bear God to one another. His consolation and hope for the world rest in that conclusion. Stallings believes the marriage of an ancient faith and the postmodern world, though tricky business, is the mission of the church, a mission which can be realized only in the gritty reality of love for God, one another, the planet, and ourselves.
Dr. Ellen Davis spends most of her waking hours writing and teaching (or getting ready to write and teach) about the Bible in ways that may illuminate the difficulties and beauties of being human. Those difficulties may be personal (getting along with our neighbors), spiritual (getting along with God), or public and global (climate change, interfaith relations). Her latest book, Opening Israel’s Scriptures, was published in 2019. She is currently collaborating with professional dancers, musicians, and painter Makoto Fujimura on interpreting the Psalms through the arts.
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. Each time he receives communion he is reminded of the transformative power of that love.
Musician: Michelle Pellay-Walker, viola, Memphis Symphony Orchestra
Michelle is in her 39th season with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and is the assistant principal violist. She is the scholar/author of the program notes for the symphony concerts and teaches music appreciation classes at Southwest Community College. She calls Calvary her spiritual home and also sings with the Calvary Choir.
Rabbi Micah Greenstein and Rev. Sam Teitel have been buddies since 2017. They share a love of scripture, a belief in social justice motivated by faith, and an aversion to weak coffee. Micah is the senior rabbi at Temple Israel; Sam is the minister at The Church of the River. They are thrilled to be collaborating on this sermon together for LPS and hope to multiply the life of a sermon by the power of two!
The Rev. Dr. Kathryn (Kat) Kimmel grew up in North Carolina where she learned to love the mountains, county fairs, and livermush (no, you don't want to know what's in it!)—and it was there she was formed and loved into faith. She has served in chaplain and pastor roles during her years of ministry. Kimmel and her husband, Tom, moved to Memphis in 2021 when she was called as senior pastor at First Baptist Church. For Kimmel, ministry is about showing up and being present: listening, building trust, and journeying through this life together.
Geoff Calkins is the sports columnist for The Daily Memphian and hosts The Geoff Calkins Show on 92.9ESPN. He has covered eight Olympics, a dozen Super Bowls, and more Memphis football and basketball games than he could possibly count. But he has always been less focused on the games than on the people who play them, and on the stories those people have to tell. In that way, he takes inspiration from his great uncle, the Rev. Raymond Calkins, who served as the pastor at First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1912 to 1940 — and who preached his last sermon at First Church in 1964, at the age of 95. “I was fond of people,” Rev. Calkins wrote. “Fonder of them than of books or anything else in the world. To be with them, to learn from them, to share with them, this I discovered to be the deepest interest in life."
Musician: Michelle Vigneau, Associate Professor of oboe, The University of Memphis
Associate Professor of oboe and member of the Memphis Woodwind Quintet, Dr. Vigneau has performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the United States and Mexico and spent three years playing in the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. She joined the faculty of the University of Memphis in 2003.
Justin J. Pearson is the fourth son of teenage parents who went on to careers in the ministry and education. His life journey has been marked by a restless pursuit of justice ranging from educational equity to access to environmental justice and liberation. He was one of the founders and leaders of Memphis Community Against the Pipeline (now Memphis Community Against Pollution, or MCAP), which successfully blocked the Byhalia Connection Pipeline. He is also the special assistant to the CEO at Year Up, an organization that furthers employment equity for young adults. Pearson has an unwavering commitment to social and racial justice for Memphis and for this country. He hopes his life preaches a sermon that will glorify God and honor his ancestors.
The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers serves as Canon to Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and spearheads Episcopal efforts concerning evangelism, reconciliation, and creation care. Her newest book, The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community (March 2021), follows her popular titles Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other and the Spirit of Transformation and The Episcopal Way. Spellers has served as chaplain to the Episcopal House of Bishops, directed and taught mission and evangelism at General Theological Seminary, and served as a canon in the Diocese of Long Island. Before that, she founded The Crossing, a ground-breaking church within St. Paul’s Cathedral in Boston, and led numerous church-wide renewal and justice efforts. A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, she and her husband Albert deGrasse make their home in New York's Harlem neighborhood.
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.
The Reverend Canon Dr. Stephanie Spellers is one of the Episcopal Church’s leading thinkers around 21st-century ministry and mission. A writer, speaker, and priest, Spellers reflects Dr. Marcus Borg’s bold ideas paired with a gracious spirit. Canon Spellers addresses some of the most compelling issues of our day: racism, the ecological crisis, and the future of the institutional church. She exhorts us to delve into shared histories of injustice and of healing, reckoning and hope. However fraught the topics, the basis of Spellers’s work is love. In her writing and preaching, Canon Spellers seeks to help people “follow Jesus’s way of love and to grow loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships with God, each other, and the earth.”
A highly respected scholar and public intellectual, the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones is the sixteenth President of the historic Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The first woman to head the 182-year-old institution, Jones is a past president of the American Academy of Religion, which annually hosts the world’s largest gathering of scholars of religion. Jones came to Union after seventeen years at Yale University. She is the author of several books including Trauma and Grace and, most recently, her memoir Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World. Jones, a popular public speaker, holds deep grounding in theology, politics, women’s studies, economics, race studies, history, and ethics.
Musicians Thursday, March 10: Beverly & Howard Vance, flute & guitar duo
Classical Guitarist and composer Howard Vance and Flutist Beverly Elliotte Vance both completed graduate degrees in music at the University of Memphis. Together they perform as Duo Vance and own the Howard Vance Guitar Academy.
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.
Dr. Nichols, a native of Memphis, TN, is the organizing pastor of Freedom’s Chapel Christian Church (DOC). Following the death of a childhood friend, Dr. Nichols created A More Excellent Way, Inc., an organization with a mission to help individuals from all walks of life to enter into, engage in, and maintain spiritually healthy relationships while eliminating relationship violence. She is a founding member of MICAH (Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope) and serves as Inter-Faith Officer for MIFA (Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association). She has been a visiting professor in Gweru, Zimbabwe, a church planter throughout China, and a Holy Land pilgrim. Dr. Nichols’s deepest passions are transformational teaching and working with others to seek justice, love, and mercy.
Musician: PRIZM Student Ensemble; Gavin Wigginson, Executive Director
Diversity. Opportunity. Access. Prizm builds diverse community through chamber music education, youth development, and performance.
The Rev. Joshua Narcisse is a proud native of Queens, NY, who now calls Memphis home. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a co-host of “The Mystic,” a monthly discussion forum on spirituality, faith, and meaning hosted at Crosstown Concourse. He currently serves as director of spiritual care at Church Health, a faith-based healthcare organization caring for the uninsured and underserved in Memphis. There he offers pastoral and spiritual support to staff and patients and coordinates interreligious programming. He is interested in the intersection of the Black church and Mysticism traditions; he is a fan of Howard Thurman, Barbara Holmes, and Richard Rohr. Narcisse is motivated by the possibilities within life-giving and God-honoring human relationships and our broader connectedness to all creation.
The Rev. Rufus Smith IV is the senior pastor of Hope Church (EPC) in Memphis. He joined Hope’s staff in September 2010 and became senior pastor in 2013. Under Smith’s leadership, Hope has transitioned from a predominantly Caucasian church to a multi-ethnic, multi-generational congregation. In 2016, he founded the Memphis Christian Pastor’s Network (MCPN), an ethnically and denominationally diverse clergy-only network that builds trust and broadens impact via candid conversation and collaboration. The MCPN works to reduce economic disparity in Memphis. Smith was born in Houston, TX and for 12 years served as the senior pastor of The City of Refuge (COR) Presbyterian Church. He founded The FORGE for Families (FFF), a CDC that empowers underserved neighbors in the greater 3rd Ward community in Houston. In addition, he was for three years the lead chaplain for the NBA Houston Rockets. Crazy about baseball, reading, and walking, his real claim to fame is his wife of 36 years, Jacqueline, and their three children: Ruth Abigail, Rufus V, and Rhoda Anna.
Rabbi Katie Bauman serves as the senior rabbi of Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bauman was blessed to spend the first ten years of her rabbinate at Temple Israel in Memphis, Tennessee, where she focused on worship renewal, youth and adult education, young adult engagement, and counseling and pastoral care as an assistant and then associate rabbi. Along with her Temple Israel work, Rabbi Bauman was the founding chairperson of MICAH, Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, and was a passionate advocate for social justice as described by the Hebrew prophets. Bauman’s sense of purpose as a rabbi is derived from the experiences of revelation she has encountered through relationships across lines of difference. She believes that our capacity to bring healing and wholeness to the world is predicated on our ability to trust and love each other. Her work inside the synagogue and beyond is inspired by and devoted to bringing people into authentic and even courageous relationships with one another, believing that holiness springs from that place.
Musician: Adam Sadberry, principal flute, Memphis Symphony Orchestra
Adam W. Sadberry is the principal flutist of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and a winner of the 2021 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. He has performed as principal flutist with orchestras around the country, given masterclasses and recitals at multiple universities including the University of Memphis, and can be heard playing on the soundtrack of Disney’s The Lion King (2019). Adam is inspired to continue the legacy of his grandfather L. Alex Wilson, a former editor of the Tri-State Defender, through the flute with what he calls “musical journalism”.
God's evolving call in the Rev. Lisa Anderson’s life has led her from pediatric chaplaincy and parish ministry to caring for those experiencing homelessness. As founding director of Room in the Inn-Memphis and pastor of Colonial Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Anderson lives each day in an atmosphere of holy hospitality. She experiences being welcomed into the lives of people who are living unsheltered as a sacred gift. Through the Room in the Inn, Anderson oversees an ecumenical network of congregations who welcome strangers and experience the incredible joy this service brings to each community of faith. As places of worship in Memphis open their doors in reaction to God's call to justice, love flows in all directions.