Sermons and Worship Services

I love preaching and designing worship services! I’m not sure if it’s that my ancestors passed on a certain love of the rhythm of Southern US Christian worship services, or that I’m really into juicy radical worship, or both/and — but ever since I was given my first opportunity to stand in front of a congregation and lead worship (thank you, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Florida!) I have felt the sweetest, most magical excitement around leading and facilitating worship.

If you’re interested in inquiring about hosting me as a guest preacher, I’d love to connect! I look so forward to deepening my understanding of your congregation and your worship service wants and needs.

I’ll include a little bit of context for my personal theology and my approach to worship design here. If there’s alignment with what you’re hoping for, please feel welcome to email me at ewallace at ses dot sksm dot edu.

My Theological Identities

My own theological identity is multilayered: I was raised Christian and have many spiritual roots Christianity, but left the faith as a teenager. Since then, I have identified as Buddhist; Humanist; Unitarian Universalist; and currently, I am in the process of Jewish conversion. I don’t understand these theological identities to be mutually exclusive or at odds – as Shaykh Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé/Ibrahim Baba says, “if wines can be complex and deliciously-layered, why can’t our religious identities also embody mixities and fluidities without automatically being interpreted as confusion and boundary-blurring? some borders are already blurred, because they are actually not even there…

My potential offerings will arise from my theological framework: these days, I would describe it as primarily Jewish Unitarian Universalist, with strong influences from Buddhism, Humanist thinkers, and Christian upbringing. If this sounds like a good fit for your congregation or group, wonderful! If you’re looking for someone to offer a sermon or talk grounded in a religious tradition or theology that I haven’t mentioned here, I’ll be delighted to connect you with some folks who may be able to offer worship from the framework you’re seeking.

Some other identities that inform my approach to theology: I am white; a genderfluid woman; queer; chronically ill; and married but ethically nonmonogamous/polyamorous. These identities won’t necessarily be the focal point of my sermons/worship services (unless you’d like them to be!), but they do influence my theology and my commitment to centering marginalized people in worship. If you’re reading this and thinking “having someone with these identities lead worship would be a dealbreaker for our congregation/group,” it will probably be more productive for you to pursue someone else as a guest preacher.

My Approach To Worship Design 

I believe that worship is deliciously complex: it’s deeply personal and deeply communal. It’s an embodied act and an intellectual experience. It’s a practice that can help us transform ourselves and our world, presenting possibilities for new ways of being, and an anchor to the familiar and comforting in the midst of a chaotic world. It can be grief-filled, joy-filled, moving, upsetting, fun, boring, awakening, sleep-inducing! Worship contains multitudes.

I believe that when we worship, we draw close to the sources of our meaning-making. Rev. Mykal Slack says that “worship is showing a lot of love and adoration for something.” I love this definition. I love helping create containers for people to show and feel and create love and adoration.

I believe that designing worship requires much care and much caretaking. I am so very interested in understanding more about the congregation and community I will be preaching and/or designing worship for so that I can better understand how to offer care in my sermon and ritual space-holding.

A little more about my approach to working with congregations and groups on worship design: once I’m invited to preach/design worship, I usually begin by having a phone conversation with the minister, congregational leader, or representative from the congregation’s worship committee/team to understand a little more about the congregation’s makeup, needs, current worship themes and practices, and any particular desires for my guest service.

I’m always delighted to dream up themes and sermon topics on my own, and I also enjoy aligning with predetermined monthly worship themes or predetermined topics.

Likewise, I’m very comfortable with designing an entire worship service, from entry into sacred space to the close of worship — I love the process of choosing readings, hymns and songs, and other ritual components. I’ve also preached several guest sermons where the sermon was all I needed to craft, and many guest sermons where the worship team and I work together to craft the service. Each of these approaches brings its own sweet process and rewards.

A few examples of worship themes & sermons I’ve offered:

  • Sermon: Tending the Embers: Unitarian Universalist Futures
  • Sermon: Radical Self-Care in a Turbulent World
  • Worship theme: Intention; Sermon: Best-Laid Plans: Setting Intentions, Dreaming Big, Letting Go
  • Worship theme: Imagination; Sermon: Spirit, Play: Imagination as Spiritual Practice

I’ve preached to congregations of eight people, congregations and audiences of hundreds, and many congregations in-between! I take joy in crafting worship that feels small-scale and intimate, and also scaling up that sense of intimacy with the sacred for larger groups.

I find that congregations have varied approaches to honoraria; let’s connect in person about your congregation’s honorarium practices.

I look forward to connecting with you soon!