Twelve years ago, David and Shirley Lake endowed the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching to honor their late son, Jeffrey Kyle Lake. Kyle was a Truett Seminary graduate, a local pastor, author, and beloved by family and friends. He died tragically while performing a baptism at University Baptist Church in Waco on October 30, 2005.
Kyle Lake brought energy and imagination to the pulpit, and it was this aspect of Kyle that the preaching center was commissioned to remember and honor. The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching was dreamed to be a resource for pastors, preachers, and seminary students who are tasked with bringing the Word of God to people through sermons.
It was through the leadership of Dr. W. Hulitt Gloer that this dream found tangibility. Gloer, as the Center’s first director, established preaching conferences, online workshops, pastors’ schools, sermon reflections, video interviews, sabbatical programs, and many other initiatives that seek to serve pastors and students.
What Gloer understood so well is the weight of the continued preaching task. He realized that students in their preaching courses that ask them to write a maximum of four sermons over a semester are not getting a true representation of full-time vocational ministry. So, Gloer brought in homileticians and pastors from different contexts and traditions to help paint fuller pictures of what preaching week after week entails. Through these pastors and scholars, students have had the opportunity to interact and know a multitude of great ministry leaders and absorb significant wisdom.
“The different conferences and events also create spaces for outside pastors and alumni to come to the seminary and sit with students as they face leaders and friends in ministry,” said Shawn Boyd, office manager for the Kyle Lake Center. “The conferences allow us to host voices that are different from our own and to hear perspectives that we might have never landed on alone.”
The impact of Gloer’s time as director is a bridge built by him. Gloer recognized that the seminary and the church are not identical, but two different spaces that should interrelate. The Kyle Lake Center is a place where a pastor can find resources to continue her or his journey of continuous learning and growth. The Center is also a place that the church can find entrance into the life of the seminary and offer direction and critique of future trajectory. Gloer was able to achieve this bridge by letting both settings continue to pour into what it means to be called to serve Christ.
In June 2018, following Gloer’s retirement from Truett, Dr. Joel C. Gregory, professor of preaching and holder of the George W. Truett Endowed Chair in Preaching and Evangelism, was installed as the Kyle Lake Center’s new director.
Gregory was recently named one of the English-speaking world’s “most effective preachers” by Truett Seminary’s survey of the Academy of Homiletics and the Evangelical Homiletics Society. He was also honored with the “Living Legend Award” at the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference in July 2018.
“In Gregory’s Preaching 1 course, he forms the syllabus around the concept of the Razor’s Edge. The Razor’s Edge is a metaphor that points to the place in which a preacher is called to stand, in between the historical context of the Biblical text and the contemporary life of the church,” Boyd said. “During the transition from one director to the next, I have had the responsibility and pleasure of standing on a razor’s edge between two preaching giants. Both professors have, will, and continue to shape preaching in their own style and scholarship. The impact of each man will not be known on this side of glory.”
The Kyle Lake Center will continue to be the place where pastors, preachers, and students can come to find a way in which to enhance their prophetic and proclamatory craft. The Center will hold an institutional memory of the good work started by Gloer and will look for creative ways to continue the heart of this work through the vision of Gregory, who shares the same passion and love for preaching as Gloer, as well as a spirit of a life-long learner.
Through the foundation laid by the Lake family and the tenure of Gloer, Truett Seminary has become a vanguard of homiletics and will continue studying what it means to be an effective preacher, how to train the best preachers, and how to serve those already in the field.
“For those that are serious about the preaching task, the Kyle Lake Center is here for you in any way we might best assist,” Boyd said. “We pray for you week in and week out and we challenge you to keep sharpening your preaching.”