Preachers of the Week
2023 Preachers of the Week
Religion in Christian tradition is both personal and social holiness. There are many expressions of religion, and one’s faith journey is not the same as another’s. Each summer, Lakeside invites preachers from around the world to bring their message to our Sunday Community Worship Services at 10:30 a.m. while the Chautauqua Choir sings.
Worship music for the 2023 Chautauqua season is generously supported by James E. Beardsley and Doris F. Beardsley.
Every preacher represents a different understanding of faith. We encourage them to share stories of their own faith journeys and lead our Faith for Living Hour at 9 a.m. Monday-Thursday in Orchestra Hall.
We’re excited to welcome the following preachers to bring their different perspectives of faith to Lakeside in 2023 for our 150th Anniversary:
Rev. Dr. Brian McLaren | May 28
McLaren is a former college English professor, pastor and passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” that focuses on working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is a core faculty member of The Living School and podcaster with “Learning How to See,” which are part of the Center for Action and Contemplation. McLaren is also an Auburn Senior Fellow and co-host of “Southern Lights.” He has written 21 books; his most recent works are Faith After Doubt and Do I Stay Christian?.
Rev. Zac Hess | June 4-8
Hess is on the pastoral staff at Grace Polaris Church where he teaches Bible and theology classes and leads the pastoral internship and residency program. He also serves as the lead coordinator for the Charis Pastors Fellowship of North Central Ohio.
Bishop Ivan M. Abrahams | June 11-15
Abrahams is well-versed in casting vision, providing spiritual and strategic leadership, and developing policies and procedures in line with values, goals and the mission of the church.
As General Secretary of the World Methodist Council and its 80+ member churches in more than 130 countries, he meets regularly with world leaders of faith communities and governments to implement strategic planning for climate and social justice. Established in 1881, the Council continues to unite the Wesleyan and Methodist family under Abrahams’ leadership. During his term, the Council has become much more mobile, working virtually as the church’s mission and ministry is accomplished in every corner of the world.
Rev. Dr. Michael Beck | June 18-22
Beck is a spiritual guide who helps people heal, love and unleash imagination to create better lives, organizations and communities. He serves as Director of the Fresh Expressions House of Studies at United Theological Seminary and Director of Fresh Expressions for The United Methodist Church. Beck also serves as Co-Pastor of Wildwood United Methodist Church in Wildwood, Florida. Beck has a passion for helping laity and clergy plant new forms of church. He helps church leaders across the globe follow Jesus in fresh and exciting ways.
Rev. Katherine Willis Pershey | June 25-29
A native Northeast Ohioan who first discerned a call to ministry at the Lakeside Institute, Pershey attended seminary at Claremont School of Theology in Southern California. She was the solo pastor of South Bay Christian Church in Torrance, California for five years, and has been serving the First Congregational Church of Western Springs as an Associate Minister since 2010.
Rev. Magrey deVega | July 2-6
deVega’s congregation at Hyde Park United Methodist Church is at the leading edge of offering exciting, creative digital worship services, an innovative downtown campus, called The Portico, which reaches spiritually seeking people in non-conventional ways, and weekly missions and service to unhoused persons in the community.
Rev. Ginger E. Gaines Cirelli | July 9-13
Gaines-Cirelli has served as Senior Pastor of the historic Foundry United Methodist Church since 2014 and is the first woman to hold the title.
At Foundry, Gaines-Cirelli has reenergized work for racial justice, became a founding member of the Sanctuary DMV movement and leads a Sacred Resistance Ministry Team to mobilize consistent action in response to troubling current events.
Father Gregory Boyle | July 16-20
From 1986-1992, Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The church was the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.
Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he, the parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.
Rev. Michael Slaughter | July 23-27
Better known as a chief dreamer and spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovation, Slaughter took a 90-member congregation to more than 4,000 members. His call to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted challenges all to wrestle with God and their God-destinies.
Slaughter is Pastor Emeritus at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church (UMC), which was named one of the top 50 churches in the U.S. by The Church Report in 2005 and 2006. The publication also named him as one of the top 50 Most Influential Christians in America.
Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel | July 30-Aug. 3
Daniel is a preacher, teacher and writer who serves as the Michigan Conference Minister of the United Church of Christ in East Lansing. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she has served at several urban congregations across the country, working to build vibrant community. Most recently, Daniel was the Senior Pastor for a historic urban church in Dubuque, Iowa.
Featured in the New York Times and on PBS, Daniel’s writing is described as “biting, hilarious, pitch perfect, tender and often stunningly beautiful.” Her book, Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To, generated international conversation about the changing religious landscape.
Bishop David M. Wilson | Aug. 6-10
Wilson has served as resident bishop of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church in Topeka, Kansas. since January 1, 2023. He was elected to episcopal office November 1, 2022, on a historic vote by the South Central Jurisdiction’s delegates, when Bishop Wilson was one of three people elected on the first and only ballot needed to fill bishop vacancies.
Wilson, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, holds the distinction of being the first Native American elected to serve as a bishop in the history of The United Methodist Church.
Rev. Ernie Matijasic | Aug. 13-17
Matijasic has served in various Episcopal Churches in Virginia and North Carolina (where he founded a new church) and is the former Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Sandusky. He has been retired for 14 years and can be found in Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches playing the organ or preaching.
Rev. Dr. James A. Harnish | Aug. 20-24
Harnish retired after 43 years of pastoral ministry in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. He was the Founding Pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando and served for 22 years as the Senior Pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa.
Dr. Valerie Bridgeman | Aug. 27
Bridgeman is Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs, as well as Associate Professor of Homiletics and Hebrew Bible at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio. She also is Founding President and CEO of Woman Preach! Inc., a non-profit organization that brings preachers to full prophetic voice.
Rev. Luke Witte | Sept 3
Rev. Luke Witte, the former Carolina Division Director of Marketplace Chaplains in Charlotte, North Carolina, returns to Lakeside on Sunday, Sept. 3. The first thing one notices about Witte is that he must have played basketball. Standing 6’11”, he played at Ohio State University, where he received Big Ten and All-American honors. Graduating from Ohio State in 1973, Witte continued playing basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers and several seasons overseas in Switzerland and Italy. He was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022.
After a few years in the business world, Witte received a Master of Divinity from Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. His main passion is pastoral care but enjoys wood working and traveling with his wife of 45 years, Donita.