After a successful inaugural event last fall, Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen, senior pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, is looking forward to hosting the 2nd annual Midwest Gospel Preaching Summit — titled “Preaching Changes Lives” — on Oct. 11-12.
“I’m looking forward to listening and learning from other pastors and seeing how they approach ministry. COVID really did a number of us all across the nation and our churches all went virtual. And so our congregations are coming back. Actually, some are coming back into buildings, some are not. So with this conference, I’m looking forward to trying to figure out new techniques of how to communicate effectively to our membership about the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Rev Allen tells Madison365. “But I’m also looking forward to the fellowship of just being around other pastors and preachers who are trying their best to make things happen each week …. I’m looking forward to that fellowship and learning.”
Mt Zion Baptist Church and Upper House in Madison will once again be the cohosts of the Midwest Gospel Preaching Summit, an annual event for pastors and ministers committed to advancing the spiritual growth of their congregants and the church as a whole. Last year, Rev. Allen, who serves as the president of the African American Council of Churches, says they had over 100 people registered for the inaugural Midwest Gospel Preaching Summit.
“We’re just looking forward to making the impact that we had last year. This year, we have about 50 people registered and hopefully, we get the other 50 by the end of this month. That’s the goal,” Rev. Allen says.
The conference speakers bring decades of experience in training seminarians, Allen says, as well as years of service shepherding congregations.
The keynote speakers for the Summit — Rev. Dr. Danielle L. Brown, Rev. Dr. Jerry M. Carter, Jr., and Rev. Dr. William Curtis— have deep insight into how to preach the transformative Word of God and engage their listeners, Allen adds, and will delve into this passage’s nuances and share ways their fellow pastors can convincingly communicate the gospel message and inspire their listeners to take action in response.
Rev. Brown is the 10th senior pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Plainfield, New Jersey, and Theologian-in-Residence at Princeton Seminary’s Black Theology and Leadership Institute. Rev. Carter is the 14th pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church of Morristown, New Jersey, and founder of the How Shall They Hear (HSTH) Preaching Conference. Rev. Curtis is senior pastor at Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an instructor at United Theological Seminary, and co-owner of The Church Online.
“The intention was to bring in preachers across the country like Rev. Dr. Danielle Brown from New Jersey and Dr. Jerry Carter, who was with us last year, and also from New Jersey, and Dr. William Curtis from Pittsburgh,” Allen says. “I was able to get them to come in, but then also want to highlight the local pastors in the [Madison] area like the Honorable Rev. Everett Mitchell and Bishop Godfrey Stubbs.”
Rev. Mitchell will lead a breakout session on “Preaching Justice in an Unjust Society” and Bishop Stubbs will talk about “Maintaining the House: Preaching Beyond the Pulpit.” Rev. Keith Evans will lead a session called “Preaching with a Purpose.”
“The goal was to bring in people nationally and locally, and they make that connection. There will be a lot of pastors from outside of Madison who will be coming to Madison for this conference. I really love that,” Allen says.
“These are some very well-rounded and very educated people. They have done a lot of conferences around leadership,” Allen adds. “That’s why we’re bringing them in to not only help us with preaching but in our lives overall as Christians or being people that can thrive in the society that we’re in.”
Founded in 1911, Mt. Zion Baptist Church is one of Wisconsin’s oldest predominantly African-American congregations and has a long history of community service on Madison’s South Side. Upper House, located in the heart of the UW-Madison campus, is a nonprofit center for Christian gathering and learning committed to connecting faith, ideas, and communities in Madison and regionally.
“Last year was the first year we hosted the conference — Mt. Zion partnering with the Upper House — to bring in prominent pastors and preachers and teachers from across the country to teach on preaching,” Allen remembers. “Personally, I’m one who enjoys going to preaching conferences throughout the country to attempt to stay on the cutting edge myself. So being the president of the African American Council of Churches, I know that many of my pastors may not have that same ability to go across the country to a conference.”
That’s part of the reason that Allen wanted to bring something to Madison, particularly focused on the African-American church and community.
“I’m grateful that the Upper House was willing to partner with us. I think this conference has — based on my registration and sponsors at all of our churches, not just black churches, but also white churches — seen the benefit of having these speakers come and pour into us and try to help us preach to our communities and to communicate on a high level to our members and also to our communities.”
A full listing of all of the speakers, workshops, sessions, and events for the Midwest Gospel Preaching Summit can be found here.
The Summit is designed for pastors and ministers of all backgrounds and denominations committed to advancing the spiritual growth of their congregants and the church as a whole, but Allen says that he hopes to once again see people from all walks of life attend.
“Anyone can come to this conference. There is so much to learn and it really helps you with your communication skills, and how you articulate what you’re trying to say to people,” Allen says. “And that’s what preaching is … basically communicating to the audience.
“I think we really found that we made an impact on people at last year’s event and they really enjoyed the conference last year and wanted to bring it back again. It’s something that we want to continue each year.”