New Butler Chair – Web

New Butler Chair of Homiletics & Hermeneutics

The Vancouver School of Theology is pleased to confirm that The Rev. Joni Sancken, PhD will join the school effective January 1, 2024.

The prestigious Butler Chair in Homiletics & Biblical Interpretation is one of only two in Canada, and among a very few supported by an endowment in the world.

Joni teaches in the area of homiletics. Her interests include theological approaches to preaching, women preachers, preaching about the cross and resurrection and preaching in a context of trauma. She is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. Joni completed her BA at Goshen College (1998), MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary (2004), and PhD at the Toronto School of Theology (2009) under the direction of Professor Paul Scott Wilson.

She has written five books: Getting to God: Preaching Good News in a Troubled World (Cascade, co-authored, 2023), All Our Griefs to Bear: Responding with Resilience After Collective Trauma (Herald Press, 2022), Words that Heal: Preaching Hope to Wounded Souls (Abingdon, 2019), Stumbling Over the Cross: Preaching the Cross and Resurrection Today (Cascade, 2016), and New Proclamation: Year C 2013, Advent through Holy Week (Fortress Press, co-authored, 2012). In addition, Joni has contributed extensively to her field with many articles and chapter contributions to other texts.

Joni Sancken is an ordained pastor with Mennonite Church USA and has served as a pastor in Mennonite congregations in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Her credentials are currently held by Central District. Prior to joining United Theological Seminary as a tenured faculty member, she served as Assistant Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, VA, where she also served as the director of their Preaching Institute. Joni also served as a sessional faculty member at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Candler School of Theology as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University. Joni is married to Steven Schumm, and they have a daughter, Maggie, and son, Theodore. She enjoys spending time with family, taking long walks with her dogs, reading memoirs, and watching all kinds of documentaries.

“I am excited to join the community at VST and honored to be part of a group who embodies generative engagement with the world, academic rigor, and commitment to the church. VST is a wonderful place for students to explore God’s calling.”
– Joni Sancken

“We are thrilled at this appointment which will strengthen the ministry of preaching in the church. Prof Sancken brings impressive gifts of scholarship, enthusiasm for the work of theological education and love for students to our school. Her presence will amplify our ability to educate and form thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders for the 21st century.”
– Richard Topping, VST President & Vice-Chancellor