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Preaching for Change

West Raleigh Presbyterian Church has been invited to participate in NEXT Church’s Preaching for Change initiative which is funded, in-part, by the Lilly Endowment. But what IS it? Who is involved? When is it happening? And who else will be involved?


What is it?

NEXT Church believes leaders and the ground on which they serve must be tended in order to bring about change and transformation. We know that Christian leaders who respond to the needs around them require the cultivation of growth and change, both in themselves and others. Because of this belief, NEXT Church’s Preaching for Change Initiative:
1) begins with the internal work of preparing the leaders and community for change, 2) builds upon an evaluative practice of accountability to the work we are called to do, and 3) creates a collaborative learning environment to move communities toward wholeness.[1]


Preaching for Change cohorts are either collegial (a cohort of colleagues serving different congregations) or congregational (a cohort of leaders from a single congregation). West Raleigh has a congregational cohort. Our cohort was crafted to represent our Dismantling Racism Task Force, our MoreLight Task Force and embrace an age range that is representative of the congregation.

Who is involved? 

Our cohort is Laura Bulluck, Sarah McCracken Cobb, Sarah Rand, Katherine Rick-Miller, Ella Thompson, Karen Jo Van Manen and me (Kat).


Our application/proposal focused on exploring what it looks like to proclaim “who WRPC is” beyond the walls of the congregation. From our proposal:

The cohort will explore how preaching/proclamation extends beyond the pulpit and includes words…and actions…that proclaim who we are and what we believe. The cohort will investigate the belief that…preaching/proclamation transcends…Sunday mornings and physical church buildings and extends an inclusive word of authentic care and prophetic insistent to the greater community. The cohort will cultivate leadership within and beyond the cohort by developing opportunities for spoken and embodied proclamation, identifying and addressing resistance to these opportunities, and more fully engaging the work of being a Matthew 25 congregation. Through these actions, we will bear witness to being a progressive and prophetic congregation.


When is it happening? 

Now 😊 We had our first meeting on Friday, March 15. We savored a tapas dinner and shared portions of our individual application essays. We listened to one another share why we said “yes” and how each of us is hoping to grow. As I type, we are completing at six module course called "Antiracism as a Way of Change." This evening we will meet with our coaches for the first time. Personalized cohort coaching is part of the grant. Our coaches are the Rev. Martha Spong  and the Rev. Brett Pinder. You can read a little about them: 2024 National Gathering Leadership - NEXT Church. We will be commissioned in worship this Sunday (April 7th) and then, on Sunday afternoon, Sarah Rand and Katherine Rick-Miller will travel to Arlington, VA as our representatives to NEXT Church’s National Gathering: 2024 NEXT Church National Gathering - NEXT Church.


As my mother would, “Clear as mud, right?” To be clear: we don’t know exactly what we are doing, BUT

  • We believe partnering with NEXT Church and the Preaching for Change initiative will facilitate important internal congregational work related to discerning the next steps for our Dismantling Racism Task Force and More Light Task Force…We trust that our involvement with NEXT Church and the Preaching for Change initiative will equip us for meaningful and ongoing action that will impact our congregation and community. We believe the process of coaching, conversation and reflection will reveal our next steps and clarify how we can most effectively preach for change in the greater Raleigh area.

  • We lean into the hope that Spirit-led creative experimentation opens pathways to transformation we can only begin to imagine. We open ourselves to Spirit – who is present as Struggle and Surprise – and commit ourselves to the work of proclamation.


Who else will be involved? 

Our hope and prayer is the entire WRPC community will join us – when we know what we are doing AND when we are learning, exploring, trying, succeeding, failing and growing. The work of preaching for change includes all of these activities. You can count on us to try, lead, and invite you to join us.


Please join CHANGE (that’s what we are currently calling ourselves) by taking a couple slow deep breaths and taking time to pray for us, our coaches, our learning and our leadership.



Kat (on behalf of CHANGE)




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