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Preaching professor Thomas Long once observed that good preaching is exactly what it looks like: hard work done under pressure.

“The Preachers’ Oasis” is a new program offered by the Center for Excellence in Preaching (CEP) at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS). The program gives preachers the opportunity not only to take a break from their hard work but also to reflect on it with an eye toward deepening their preaching skills.

Currently the Oasis program is being offered in two ways. The main event is an annual, week-long seminar in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Last July, 14 pastors from eight denominations gathered for five days of conversation and reflection. The seminar was co-led by Rev. Mary Hulst, Dr. Randy Bytwerk, and Rev. Scott Hoezee.

Each of the participants submitted two videotaped sermons along with evaluation forms completed by members of their congregations. Oasis leaders evaluated the sermons and gave each pastor feedback on areas of preaching strengths and weaknesses.

Plenary session topics included imaginative sermon construction, rhetorical techniques for better delivery, and interpreting the biblical text in ways that let God’s truth shine through clearly.

But the week was not all work. True to its name, Oasis gave pastors time to relax and enjoy each other’s company over shared meals. Feedback indicated that pastors enjoyed themselves and also benefited from the insights they gained.

One commented, “Thank you! The Oasis was much needed in my life, and I didn’t even realize it before!”

Another said, “The generosity of time, energy, and passion in the teaching have been amazing. The openness of other participants has made this so valuable, and I have felt privileged to be among such gifted people.”

The weeklong Oasis is not the only way to get a taste of this new program. Local two-day events are also being planned, such as the seminar held May 30-31, 2006, at The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta. Twenty-one pastors attended this event led by Rev. Scott Hoezee.

The next weeklong “Preachers’ Oasis” will be held in Grand Rapids from July 9-13, 2007, and is limited to 15 participants. The application deadline is March 1; details are available at

If you would like to organize a local Oasis in your area, contact CEP Director Scott Hoezee at .

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