Bishop's Spring Clergy Retreat with Dr. Thomas G. Long

Shrine Mont

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Scholarship assistance is available. Please contact Anita Lisk.

Now Into the World: Prayerful Preaching with Dr. Thomas G. Long

Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Emory University Candler School of Theology

Dear Friends:

Our annual Clergy Retreat at Shrine Mont is just around the corner.   It will take place from Monday, May 6, through Wednesday, May 8. This will be an important time for us as ordained leaders of our Diocese to relax, reflect and re-energize in the beauty of the mountains.  I look forward to seeing you there and trust that you will make every effort to be present for the entire retreat.
Our theme for our time together is:  Now into the World: Prayerful Preaching
Dr. Thomas G. Long, professor emeritus of preaching at Emory University Candler School of Theology, will offer our plenaries on prayerful homiletics.  The theme may sound like a writing workshop or a seminary course, but it is neither.  Instead, it will provide a context for our retreat together as we steep ourselves in God’s word and discern God’s voice in our preaching.
    During conversations with Dr. Long in preparation for this retreat, I heard his passion for preaching authentically in a complex cultural context.  I also heard his commitment to speaking with Gospel clarity in a time of much political and social tension.  I am excited about the ways we will reflect on our own preaching in the present moment and on how we might grow as proclaimers of the Gospel.
     The deadline for registration is Friday, May 3. This retreat is an appropriate use of discretionary funds, and diocesan scholarship assistance is available. Information on fees and registration is available here. To increase scholarship availability, I invite those who have the means to contribute to scholarships for others to send their gifts to the Diocese of Virginia in care of my office, with a note on the check, “Spring Clergy Retreat scholarship gift.” If you have questions, contact Bill Martin via e-mail at  or at 800-DIOCESE.
    Our spring retreat is an essential time to renew our connectedness in common ministry, as well as to strengthen ourselves vocationally.  God grant us all abundant traveling mercies as we make our way to the mountain. I’ll see you there.

Click to jump to a section:
Session Descriptions
About Dr. Thomas G. Long 

Session Descriptions

“Between Lament and Hallelujah: Prayerful Discernment in Preaching”

Session 1  |  Monday Evening         

There has been much discussion in recent years about finding one’s voice in preaching, preaching as artistic expression, and the like. While these issues are quite important, preaching is not primarily about releasing our own voices, but be attuned to God’s voice. In this session, we will think about the preacher as a person of prayerful discernment. We will look particularly at examples of prayers in the psalms and ways of faithfully listening to scripture as we prepare to preach.

“At the Intersection of Pastoral Care and Prophecy: Speaking Faith and Truth in Toxic Times”

Session 2  |  Tuesday Morning

Pastors are keenly aware that the toxic rhetoric and attitudes of the current culture wars do not remain safely outside the walls of the church. Congregations are often as polarized and as ready to speak acrimony as are those in the larger culture, and sermons must be delivered into this social context . Both in plenary and in small groups, we will explore in this session what kind of sermons faithfully address people in this cultural moment.

“You Have the Words of Eternal Life: Preparing to Preach in the Seasons of Life and Death”

Session 3  |  Wednesday Morning

Just as the Word accompanies Christians throughout their lives, so preachers are summoned to speak gospel in every season of life, from birth to death. In this session, we will look at several seasons in life and think about what speaking the gospel in these seasons might mean.

About Dr. Thomas G. Long

Dr. Thomas G. Long’s primary area of research is homiletics (the history, theory, and practice of preaching.) His introductory textbook, The Witness of Preaching, has been translated into a number of languages and is widely used in theological schools around the world. In 2010, Preaching magazine named The Witness of Preaching one of the 25 most influential books in preaching for the last 25 years. Long gave the distinguished Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale, which were published in his 2009 book Preaching from Memory to Hope.

Long is also deeply interested in biblical studies, practical theology, and liturgy. He has written commentaries on the biblical books of Hebrews, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Pastoral Epistles, and his books on the Christian funeral, Accompany Them with Singing and The Good Funeral (co-authored with noted poet and funeral director Thomas Lynch), have generated interest both in the academy and the media. His book What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith, which addresses the issue of innocent suffering and the goodness of God, was selected as the Book of the Year for 2011, an award given by the Academy of Parish Clergy to the best book published for parish ministry in the previous year.

Long, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), served as the senior homiletics editor of The New Interpreter’s Bible, and he is associate editor of Journal for Preachers and editor-at-large for the Christian Century. The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary identified Long as one of the 12 most effective preachers of 2018. Emory University awarded him the Emory Williams Award for teaching excellence in 2011. His wife, Kimberly, also a Presbyterian minister, is professor of worship at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

Massage Session at Spring Clergy Retreat

The 45-minute massages are available on Monday afternoon at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 and on Tuesday afternoon at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00. The fee for each 45-minute massage session is $50 and does not include any tip that you wish to offer to the massage therapist.

You will sign up for the massage sessions as part of the on-line registration. If you have any questions, contact Bill Martin.

The massage therapists

Rich Sitorius

Rich has been practicing massage since 2009. He is a bodywork instructor, and has taught Deep Tissue Massage, Myofascial Release, and Anatomy and Physiology classes. He is currently the Spa Manager at The Mimslyn Inn Hotel in Luray and works at The Nest Yoga + Fitness Studio in Harrisonburg. Rich is certified in Energetic Healing which is a method of utilizing and working with Life Force Energy (otherwise known as "Chi" or "Prana") which can reduce and heal pain in the body as well as emotional and mental stress.

Ashley Smith

Ashley received training in Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release as well as Joint Mobility and Postural Assessment at the Shenandoah Valley School of Therapeutic Massage. Her massage is a relaxing therapeutic massage.

Chante Kennedy

Chante is a licensed Massage Therapist who graduated from The Shenandoah Valley School of Therapeutic Massage in 2009. With a background in spa and chiropractic offices, she has learned to focus on a truly therapeutic approach. She uses Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial release, Thai yoga massage, M.E.T., PNF, trigger point therapy, and reflexology modalities.

Her specialties include sinuses, pre and post op hip and knee replacement, headaches, migraines, shoulders injuries, plantar fasciitis, and sciatica. You can find her massage practice located at A New You in Mount Jackson, Virginia.

Additional services available

The massage therapists will also provide the option to the clients to incorporate additional items into their massages for $10 extra each. The clients would pay for this with cash or check, directly to the therapist in addition to any gratuity/tip they may wish to give their therapist.

The extra options offered are:

  • Deep Tissue Massage ($10)
  • Therapeutic Stretching ($10)
  • Energy Healing ($10)
  • Aromatherapy ($10)