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Episcopal Preaching Foundation Commissioning

Pictured: Haden Tirey, Dean Joy Blaylock, Salem Saloom, Jessica Walker, Debbie Waldrop, and Necie Borroni
Pictured L to R: Haden Tirey, Dean Joy Blaylock, Salem Saloom, Jessica Walker, Debbie Waldrop, and Necie Borroni

On Veteran’s Day weekend, a cohort from the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast traveled to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., to take part in the final commissioning of five of our lay preachers - Necie Borroni, Haden Tirey, Salem Saloom, Debbie Waldrop, and Jessica Walker. Our diocese was one of six chosen to take part in a two-year pilot program to raise up highly trained lay preachers and to establish a curriculum and program that can now be replicated across the country. To learn more, please visit this link:

Under the leadership of the Rev. Stephen Smith and Mr. Peter Wild, we began this journey two years ago. Those chosen to participate in this program were nominated by their parish priest or vestry. These leaders met monthly with Dean Joy Blaylock for learning sessions shaped by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation curriculum and also met several times for weekend retreats. These lay preachers covered specialized topics like responsible exegesis, the use of sanctified imagination, the power of storytelling, as well as sharing their formation experience in their church settings by soliciting feedback from designated groups.

I have had the privilege of watching this dynamic group of lay preachers grow in grace, confidence, and a true delight in the communal bonds that were formed over the two years. Each lay preacher brings to our diocese a powerful witness to the Good News and a steadfast conviction to continue the gifts of preaching and listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit across our diocese as a whole.

I encourage you to reach out to these wonderful people if you are curious about their call to preach or would like to have one of them visit your community. I remain incredibly proud and grateful for their willingness to say “yes” to this endeavor and for the concrete ways they are leading our church into a transformed future.

-Dean Joy Blaylock


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