SP talks to Dr. Martha Simmons
We realize that many of us may not have had the experience of one-on-one mentoring from some of the women whom we most admire in ministry. Many of us have made our ways on the journey with counsel from peers, books, professors and the Spirit. While mentorship can be an invaluable asset, many of us have simply not had the access. Therefore, Shepreaches is committed to bringing you the voices, insights and perspective of some of the women who have paved the way for us in ministry. We will do this through Shepreaches Conversations. Consider this just one way that we are trying to build – and maintain – an empowering community for young sisters in ministry.
We are excited to introduce the tradition of Shepreaches Conversations with a dialogue between Neichelle Guidry Jones, founder of Shepreaches, and the Rev. Dr. Martha Simmons! A pioneer in the areas of preaching and worship, Dr. Simmons is a shining example of what can happen when women begin to challenge traditional notions of “ministry” while subverting paradigms of male dominance and normativity in the church and academy. In this conversation, she discusses her southern upbringing and her commitment to the academic study of preaching (also known as Homiletics), and bids us to step out courageously when God calls. You can read her full biography below.
About Rev. Dr. Martha Simmons
Reverend Martha Simmons is an associate minister at Rush Memorial United Church of Christ in Atlanta, GA. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a native of Tchula, Mississippi.
Reverend Simmons stands among the veterans in ministry. For more than 25 years, she has preached throughout America and in Africa and served in a variety of ministerial capacities. For the past eighteen, her primary ministry has been the codification, preservation, and elevation of African American preaching for present and future generations. Through this work, she is providing homiletical models and approaches to ministry that promote excellence in African American preaching and ministry. She is the Preaching Scribe for this generation. In 2011, when the religious press wanted comments about the use of faith in the President’s State of the Union address, Rev. Simmons was one of the clergy to which they turned (see The Christian Century Magazine, Feb. 2011); she is often called upon to talk about the current state of black preaching and black faith. Reverend Simmons has also developed a reputation as a mentor to young clergy and as a life-coach to senior ministers.
Her study guide titled, Doing the Deed: The Mechanics of Twenty-First Century Preaching, was released October 2012 and it will release as an E-book November 2012. She is the Creator and Director of The African American Online Lectionary. In 2007, Reverend Simmons assembled a team of scholars and pastors to develop the first African American Lectionary in the 50-plus year history of lectionaries. The lectionary offers free preaching commentaries, cultural resources, sermon illustrations, and designs for worship services for each Sunday of the African American liturgical church year. It now contains more than 11,700 pages of free material for clergy, Christian educators, laity, and worship leaders. It can be found at www.TheAfricanAmericanLectionary.org. She is one of two General Editors of Preaching with Sacred Fire: African American Sermons 1750 to the Present, W.W. Norton Publishers (2011). This historic 960-page offering is the first Norton Anthology of African American Preaching. You can learn more at www.PreachingWithSacredFire.com.
Although the African American faith community has long been and remains male dominated, Rev. Simmons has arisen as the spokesperson for the codification of African American preaching. Her writings, lectures, and workshops have made her a homiletics authority; whooping is one of her areas of homiletical expertise. Some of the notable institutions for which she has provided homiletics lectures include: United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio; The Interdenominational Theological Center of Atlanta, GA; and Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. She has also served as a visiting professor at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, CA and St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri.