Preaching and Trauma Certificate

A community of support, learning, and nurturing for preachers serving in a time of trauma and chronic stress.

With Joni Sancken (PhD), Associate Professor of Homiletics at United Theological Seminary & Rev. Richard Jorgensen, LSS Director for Evangelical Mission

Trauma is profoundly disorienting. An experience of collective or mass trauma can be compared to a strong hurricane hitting land. High winds and flooding change the landscape. In aerial photographs, the shape of the entire coastline may be different. Familiar landmarks may be submerged or destroyed. Lifelong residents can feel disoriented or lost, they don’t recognize their own neighborhoods. Without familiar life landmarks, we may not know who we are. Trauma shows us in a profound way that we are not “special” or somehow immune from the vulnerability of being human.

The horrors of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the fissures it has exposed about privilege and power reveal some difficult truths about the wounds we carry. These revelations compound fears around scarce resources, prolonged stress, grief, and isolation. This particular global experience of mass trauma is new territory. Many of us have experienced nothing close to this in our lifetime. The damage caused by trauma is deep and affects every part of our lives. In the wake of traumatic experiences, many may be moved to cry or pray. Others simply feel numb. Numbness keeps us passive and unengaged in the lives of others. It can mask our own wounds and rob us of hope.

This certificate is focused on trauma-aware preaching that nurtures resilience and hope in communities of faith. It will include an overview of trauma and responses to trauma, introduce trauma-sensitive exegetical tools, explore ways that preachers can speak to trauma that may have been caused by the church, explore concrete practices for preaching and suggest self-care tools for church leaders.

Joni Sancken (PhD, Toronto School of Theology, Emmanuel College) is Associate Professor of Homiletics at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH. Sancken is passionate about supporting and encouraging pastors. She is an ordained pastor in Mennonite Church USA and is the author of several books related to theology of the cross and trauma-aware preaching.

Presentation & Topics

October 21, 2021;  Bishop’s Convocation,

Presentations: “All our Grief to Bear: Preaching Hope to Wounded Souls”, “Words that Heal: Building Resilience After Trauma”


November 11, 2021; Trauma in Scripture

December 9, 2021; Practicing Trauma-Aware exegesis for preaching

February 10, 2022; Compassion Fatigue

March 10, 2022; Theological and Sociological Frameworks and Practices

April 7, 2022; Soul Wounds in the Church

May 5, 2022; Words that Heal: Sharing from your experience, practical ideas for trauma-aware preaching.

Director for Evangelical Mission Pastor Richard Jorgensen works with congregations looking to be renewed in God’s mission by deepening their faith, reconnecting with one another, and re-rooting in their community. Additionally, he relates to the Mission and Stewardship Education and Mission Support Committees, and the North York and South York Conferences.

To register for the Words that Heal Initiative,

please contact Pr. Richard Jorgensen at

The registration fee for Words That Heal is $300.00 and counts towards continuing education