African American congregations have long been celebrated as a locus for powerful, prophetic preaching, but at its best they have also embraced a strong pastoral and wisdom dimension as well, what Kenyatta Gilbert calls a “trivocal impulse.” Yet, African American preaching today is more threatened than ever imagined and must now overcome its own apparent irrelevance in an increasingly pluralistic, postmodern age of intense spiritual and social crisis.
Gilbert asserts that the survival of both black churches and African America at large is directly tied to recovering this trivocal character of gospel proclamation. He closely examines the functions of all these strains of African American preaching in churches and communities, provides road maps for recovering one’s authentic preaching voice, and highlights preachers who embody this trivocal proclamation style. The Journey and Promise of African American Preaching is a constructive effort to examine the historical contributions of African American preaching, the challenges it faces today, and how it might become a renewed source of healing and strength for at-risk communities and churches.
This deeply moving appeal for more faithful preaching in America could not be more timely. Kenyatta Gilbert demonstrates why he is one of the brightest and most creative homiletical minds of his generation.
—DeForest Blake "Buster" Soaries, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Lincoln, Somerset, NJ
Here is both a remarkably broad historical view of the development of black preaching in North America and an incisive diagnosis of the challenges that preachers within and beyond the African American church must meet today. Reaching into the crucible of African American history and the preaching it evoked, Gilbert crafts a ‘trivocal’ approach to preaching that incorporates three distinctive accents of the black pulpit: the prophetic, sagely, and priestly voices. One can hardly imagine a better introduction to the deep wisdom to be discovered, or rediscovered, in African American preaching traditions.
—Sally A. Brown, Elizabeth M. Engle Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship, Princeton Theological Seminary
Finally something really fresh on African American preaching! Especially relevant for today is Gilbert’s discussion on the seven personals of African American preachers. This will definitely be one of the preaching books discussed by homileticians in 2011 and beyond.
—Martha Simmons, creator, The African American Lectionary
Kenyatta Gilbert has given us an analytical and critical tool for preaching in the twenty–first century. This book is excellent for classroom, private study, and continuing education. We are in Gilbert’s debt for this brilliant teaching instrument for clergy and laity. He will help a new generation to gain and retain a profound appreciation for the creative powers and prophetic drumbeat of the African American pulpit.
—Otis Moss Jr., emeritus pastor, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH
Kenyatta Gilbert has made an invaluable contribution to homiletic scholarship and literature. Rich in tradition and wisdom, The Promise and the Journey of African American Preaching captures the genius of the African American pulpit. This work will be read widely and with great appreciation for years to come.
—Richard Lischer, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching, Duke Divinity School
Kenyatta Gilbert’s book, The Journey and Promise of African American Preaching, has afforded us a scholarly and wholesome look over the ways in which our forbears have come on the journey of faith and hope. It is valuable for use by clergy and laity. He bids us to lift every voice and proclaim with wisdom, prophetic confrontation, and priestly listening, his ‘trivocal’ method of preaching, a way in which it can resound in the pulpit, the parish, and the podium.
—Evans E. Crawford Jr., emeritus professor of social ethics and preaching, Howard University School of Divinity
In The Journey and Promise of African American Preaching, Kenyatta Gilbert offers a scholarly, personal, thought–provoking, and practical guide to the best practices in black preaching. The working preacher will find this model both a challenge and resource for promoting balance between the prophet, priest, and sage.
—Leslie D. Callahan, senior pastor, Saint Paul Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA
This book immerses readers in a sophisticated, multi–voiced soundtrack. Kenyatta Gilbert persuasively calls for ministers to preach in three voices—prophet, priest, and sage. He also amplifies keynotes from other disciplines such as practical theology, cultural studies, and pedagogy. As the Bible says, ‘Faith comes by hearing.’ After hearing this book, your faith in preaching will be renewed.
—Brad R. Braxton, distinguished visiting scholar, McCormick Theological Seminary