La Paz tiene Nombre de Mujer

Two international Latina leaders present “Peace Has a Woman’s Name” (La Paz Tiene Nombre de Mujer), a bilingual forum and discussion on Friday, Oct. 1 at 4:00pm in historic Santee Chapel on the Lancaster Theological Seminary campus. All are welcome. (Face masks are required indoors.)

The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Soto has served the Mennonite Church in many leadership roles including as the first Latina moderator of the church in the U.S. She is a senior adjunct professor at Lancaster Seminary and the co-editor of Liberating the Politics of Jesus.

The Rev. Alix Lozano is cofounder and leader of Women Builders of Peace, Bogota, Colombia, and former executive director of the Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Colombia.

Image from cpt action.

This forum is presented as part of Lancaster Seminary’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and is made possible by a gift from The Rev. Dr. Paul R. and Catherine Helen Gregory Lectorship.

Money and Ministry

“Don’t ask us to talk about money,” many church leaders say. “Just let us do ministry.” There are few topics that raise such emotion and engender so much silence as money and ministry. Pastors miss an opportunity for ministry, though, if they are not able to narrate their congregational budget in missional terms.

The Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary is offering a six-week, online class, “Money and Ministry: A Theology for Congregational Leaders,” to address this need. The class is taught by Mike Little, Director of Faith and Money Network and co-pastor Bread of Life Church, Church of the Saviour, DC.

I hope you will join us. To register for this class, visit the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry webpage. Registration deadline is October 8.

Welcoming a New Bishop

Welcome home, Bishop John Schol! The Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church officially welcomed our new bishop during a celebratory service, September 18. Participants gathered at the United Methodist Church of West Chester to join in song, prayer, and communion for a live-streamed service.

Diverse leaders throughout the conference offered signs of the episcopal office during the service. Along with the Rev. Kathryn Dinkelacker-Swan, I was honored to offer the towel and basin, representing leadership as service to others.

The symbol of the towel and basin evokes the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-17).

The Rev. Kathryn Dinkelacker-Swan represented the Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors. I represented the Order of Deacons, of which I am chair.

Bishop Schol preached about the call of all Christians to exercise the gifts God has given us, the call on clergy to serve with integrity in the unique way God has called us, and the call to congregations to connect with the community and to be open to the people God is sending our way. Sermon: 1:17:49–1:40:01.

My theology of ministry has deep resonance with Schol’s. This resonance yields much in common and a few points of friendly disagreement.

For my take on vital congregations, see my article in Witness.

For my take on the ministry of all Christians, see my article, “Bivocational Ministry as the Congregation’s Curriculum.”

The Work of Repentance

On the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I preached from the book of James. “Brothers and sisters, do you . . . really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” James wrote that faith without works is dead. Today, in Santee Chapel at Lancaster Theological Seminary, I explored the work of repentance as a faithful response to 9/11 (with a little help from H. Richard Niebuhr, Donald Shriver, and the United Church of Christ’s Just Peace Pronouncement). Read the text of my sermon on UM-Insight. Additional resources are linked, below.

Todd Green, “’Never Forget’? 9/11 and the Ethics of Memory.” Church Anew, Sept 9, 2021.

Thomas Kemper, “Reflecting on September 11th,” translated by David W. Scott. UM&Global, Sept 10, 2021.

H. Richard Niebuhr, “The Grace of Doing Nothing.” 1932. Republished on

Donald W. Shriver Jr., Honest Patriots: Loving a Country Enough to Remember Its Misdeeds. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Darryl W. Stephens, Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom: Living into the Church’s Moral Witness through Radical Discipleship. New York: United Methodist Women, 2020.

United Church of Christ, “Just Peace Church.”

Bearing Witness on the Anniversary of 9/11

Saturday, I preach at Lancaster Theological Seminary. The assigned text is from the book of James 2:1-10, 14-17. If this passage is not immediately familiar, it is the one that says faith without works is dead. (Can you hear Luther rolling over in his grave?) Saturday is also the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Which works would you preach about for this occasion?

I will post the full text of my sermon after the service on Saturday. For a hint to my approach, see Module III of my book Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom. It’s the part titled “Historical Clarity.”

Educating Bivocational Ministers

How can institutions of higher learning in theological education respond to an increasing need for bivocational ministry preparation, training, and support? Did you know that nearly 60% of current students surveyed expect to be bivocational in ministry after graduation? And, over 75% believe that bivocational ministry is the future of pastoral ministry.

Read my detailed findings based on survey data taken at Lancaster Theological Seminary. “Preparing to Educate for a Thriving Bivocational Ministry: A Seminary Case Study.” Religions (July 2021), 12(8), 592;

Trauma and Transcendence: Finding God in the Ashes

My latest research, published today, explores trauma-informed care from a religious ethics standpoint. Psychological trauma is a spiritually disruptive experience. To accompany someone through the aftermath of trauma, we need to be willing to talk about God. In this article, I provide guidance for caregivers and other service providers. Trauma-informed care can become a form of social action in solidarity with the survivor. I use the framework “bearing witness” to describe this action.

“Bearing Witness as Social Action: Religious Ethics and Trauma-Informed Response.” Trauma Care 1, no. 1: 49-63.

This article is a “Feature Paper” in the first edition of the new journal, Trauma Care.

Keywords: psychological trauma; trauma-informed care; interpersonal trauma; spirituality; bearing witness; religious ethics; solidarity; social action; Judith Herman; relational model; process theology

Book Release: The Practice of Mission in Global Methodism

A timely study of mission in a changing world, addressing migration, neocolonialism, climate change, and many other issues concerning church and society.

The Practice of Mission in Global Methodism: Emerging Trends from Everywhere to Everywhere. Routledge Methodist Studies Series. Co-edited by David W. Scott and Darryl W. Stephens. New York: Routledge, April 2021.

Publication date: April 20, 2021.

This book brings together Methodist scholars and reflective practitioners from around the world to consider how emerging practices of mission and evangelism shape contemporary theologies of mission.

Engaging contemporary issues including migration, nationalism, climate change, postcolonial contexts, and the growth of the Methodist church in the Global South, this book examines multiple forms of mission, including evangelism, education, health, and ministries of compassion. A global group of contributors discusses mission as no longer primarily a Western activity but an enterprise of the entire church throughout the world.

This volume will be of interest to researchers studying missiology, evangelism, global Christianity, and Methodism and to students of Methodism and mission.

Contributors include: Joy Eva Bohol, Jeffrey A. Conklin-Miller, Taylor Walters Denyer, Stephen J. H. Hendricks, Sam Kim, Mande Muyombo, Carmen M. Scheuerman, Sheryl Marks-Williams, Nelson Kalombo Ngoy, Jenny Phillips, Hendrik R. Pieterse, Andrea Reily Rocha Soares, David W. Scott, Elmira Sellu, Stephen Skuce, Darryl W. Stephens, Akanisi Tarabe, Mark R. Teasdale, and K. Kale Yu.

My chapter, “Divergent theologies of mission within United Methodism,” observes three distinct, competing expressions of United Methodist mission in the United States: Ecumenical, Traditionalist, and Golden Rule, corresponding to sociological distinctions identified by Nancy Ammerman. Each of these theologies is centered on a different aspect of God’s grace. Ecumenical Methodism views mission as partnership with others for the purpose of cooperation in what God is already doing, centered on prevenient grace. Traditionalist Methodism views mission as evangelism, emphasizing personal witness and individual salvation through Christ alone, centered on justifying grace. Golden Rule Methodism views mission as service and outreach, with a pragmatic focus on meeting human needs, centered on sanctifying grace. The differences in theology of mission are significant, with particular ramifications for interfaith relations, for example, as well as intradenominational politics. Nevertheless, these expressions of mission are not mutually exclusive, inviting the development of a holistic understanding of mission encompassing all three of these expressions.

Doubting Thomas and Bearing Witness

A sermon on John 20:19–31. Preached by Darryl W. Stephens at Otterbein UMC, Lancaster, PA, April 11, 2021.

Thomas was not present with the other disciples when the resurrected Jesus greeted them. Thomas doubted their story. We may share his doubt. How do we testify to someone else’s experience? (Hint: I wore my red stole to represent the Holy Spirit in our midst.)

Sermon time index 30:50–50:25.

Also at Otterbein UMC, I spoke about the ministry of the deacon, February 21, 2021. Viewing index 12:24–16:34.