Pastor Eileen Hanson, '03, didn't discover Sermon Brainwave until she was in a car accident that left her with a mild traumatic brain injury. After six months on medical leave with speech impediments and cognitive deficits, she is healing. Her reading skills, however, remain limited. She spent months not knowing if she could ever preach again.
Then she found Sermon Brainwave in a Google search. (Even though she had enjoyed Working Preacher since its early days, she hadn't known about the weekly podcasts.) "What a lifeline!" she said. "Without Sermon Brainwave, my sermon preparation would be extraordinarily challenging and exhausting."
Hanson has now returned to work at Trinity Lutheran Church, a two-site parish in Washington state, and she is expected to make a full recovery in the next six months.
Throughout her recovery, the congregation has relied on support from gifted lay people, according to Hanson's colleague, Pastor Paul Sundberg. The church leadership invited a group of congregational preachers into the pulpit to fill in the gap. "The congregational preachers have been a key piece for how we have made it through Sunday morning during this time of recovery," Sundberg said.
In addition to 40 hours of basic classroom instruction from a retired pastor, the lay preachers have relied on resources like Working Preacher. Sundberg reported, "It's been helpful for those folks in their preaching and their spiritual lives to have access to Working Preacher, a resource that is both academically challenging but accessible to thoughtful lay folks."
Working Preacher is one of the few resources that provide accessible conversations (through podcasts and text commentaries) to prepare for preaching on the texts each week. It creates a pathway for further exploration, and gives Hanson and lay preachers the confidence to more profoundly proclaim words of hope to their communities.
"I have found my voice!"
Pastor Raymond Kolison called Luther Seminary in April to say how indispensable Working Preacher has been for his ministry. Kolison arrived in the U.S. from Liberia in 1995. He sensed a call to ministry, and during his seminary training, he learned about Working Preacher from ministry colleagues.
For the past two years he has served as pastor at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Trenton, N.J. "This website has transformed my preaching. I have found my voice!" he said.
Because of the generous support of individuals and congregations for Working Preacher, Kolison and other working preachers can access the site wherever they are. For free.
Hanson said that as an alumna, she is grateful for the resources that Luther Seminary provides to support her ministry. Gifts to Luther Seminary's Sustaining Fund keep resources like Working Preacher, Enter the Bible and God Pause free for church leaders in Washington state, New Jersey and beyond.
With ongoing support, Luther Seminary continues to provide excellent free resources to enrich faith lives around the world. "The wonderful insights I've found in Working Preacher have restored my confidence as a preacher," said Hanson.
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