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O’Driscoll Forum

A Celebration of Preaching, Teaching and Liturgical Arts

An invitation to honour Herb & Paula O’Driscoll through a permanent endowment

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Re-watch the Online Launch of the O’Driscoll Forum

Selected Excerpts from the Launch Program

For those in a hurry, you’re invited to click on the shorter video excerpts offered below.

In the first, Herb recalls the formative influence of an earlier master class program in preaching at the College of Preachers in Washington, DC.

In the second, we celebrate the importance of poetry and imagination in preaching and spiritual life, with reflections from poet Susan Alexander and priest Dawna Wall, in conversation with Herb.

The third excerpt focuses on the role of narrative and story in preaching. Two outstanding practitioners and teachers of the art of preaching, Peter Elliott and Joanne Epply-Schmidt, bracket an extended reflection from Herb on this subject.

College of Preachers

Poetry and Imagination

Narrative Preaching

You are invited to honour a couple many of us have known and loved for many years.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Herbert O’Driscoll is many things: former parish priest and cathedral dean, internationally renowned conference and pilgrimage leader, hymnodist and storyteller, author of over fifty books (two more published just this year). Perhaps above all, he is a great preacher and teacher of preaching. When invited recently to give an Easter Day sermon on Zoom (at age 92) Herb accepted at once. “After all,” he explained, “I’m hard-wired for preaching.”

Paula O’Driscoll is a gifted musician and visual artist. She has sung as a soloist and in choirs all her life, and continues to create works on canvas and in fabric, frequently for liturgical purposes. Paula has also been the first audience for almost everything Herb has written, often contributing acute observations and suggestions for improvement. In short, they have been inseparable partners in life and ministry.

What, then, could be more fitting, as a permanent tribute to these two individuals who have given us so much, than to create an annual event designed to nurture great preaching and teaching, hymn writing and other aspects of the liturgical arts, as ways to tell the story of the Gospel? And, at the same time, to pass these skills on to future generations, by providing inspiring examples of excellence, alongside opportunities for practice in a supportive, collegial setting?

At the heart of each summer’s O’Driscoll Forum will be one or more distinguished teachers and practitioners of preaching, teaching and the liturgical arts. They will be invited to give public lectures, and to spend a few days with a group of keen, aspiring young practitioners of these arts in a “master class” format, much like the one Herb pioneered so successfully at the College of Preachers in Washington, DC.

The anticipated capital requirement for a permanent endowment to underwrite the project in perpetuity is at least $300,000, based on an annual payout of $12,000 to provide core program funding.

There is already significant momentum for the project. Herb and Paula have endorsed it, and Richard Topping, President of Vancouver School of Theology, has embraced it enthusiastically. A steering committee has been formed, with representatives in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Ottawa, and Washington, DC.

A number of early donors have already stepped forward, and we anticipate securing firm commitments from several more major contributors in the coming weeks and months. Eventually, everyone who sat in a pew while Herb preached, participated in an arts activity with Paula, walked with the two of them on pilgrimage, or was touched by them in other ways, will be invited to add their gift and complete the campaign.

God willing – and with your help – the O’Driscoll Forum will be a living reality very soon.

An Annual Multi-day Program during the Summer School at Vancouver School of Theology

The O’Driscoll Forum is conceived as a three-day event. At its core will be public lectures by distinguished teachers and practitioners of preaching, teaching and the liturgical arts.

However, what sets the Forum apart from “just another lecture series” is the interaction among invited guests and the students who register to participate in the all-important master class component of the program.

For instance, one year we might pair a keynote preacher with a gifted church musician or creator of liturgical fabrics, and punctuate the preacher’s insights with the artist’s perspective.

Each day, there will be opportunities for registered participants to actually practice the crafts of preaching and creativity, and share their efforts with each other, under the mentoring guidance of the visiting experts.

The core values of the O’Driscoll Forum – innovation, collaboration, storytelling, mentorship in finding an authentic voice – are being shaped jointly by VST and members of the Steering Committee in an approach that is multidisciplinary, multicultural and multigenerational.

The steering committee will then enter into a formal deed of gift with VST to create the permanent endowment. Once that happens, funds temporarily held in trust by the O’Driscoll Forum Giving Group at the Charitable Impact Foundation will be transferred to VST and held as a separate endowment within its investment portfolio to underwrite the Forum in perpetuity.

The annual income of the O’Driscoll Forum Endowment will be used exclusively to defray direct program expenses, such as speakers’ honoraria and expenses. Registration fees will provide additional revenue, and may be offset in some cases by scholarships and bursaries. As host, VST will also provide significant in-kind support, such as facilities, administration, etc.

A Few Words from Herb & Paula

Herbert O’Driscoll on Preaching
To preach in our time is to dream and to share good dreams in an age of nightmare. Explanation interests the mind, but images haunt the heart.

Many preachers today assume too much. It’s as if a developer started to build from the third storey up, even though the basement and the first two floors have been destroyed by the cultural earthquakes of recent decades.

Preaching is 90% story-telling. Too much preaching in Western culture ignores this. Narrative is the nature of life itself, and the narratives of the Bible are inexhaustible and profoundly human.

Paula O’Driscoll on Liturgical Arts
Both Herbie and I have always believed that art and beauty are a central part of the religious experience. We both got our first musical education as children, singing in church choirs. (My father led our children’s choir.) A good hymn – old or new – can preach the Gospel more effectively than a month of sermons.

Music, painting, textiles – all these art forms have been important to me throughout my life, both as an audience member, and as an admittedly amateur, but passionate, practitioner. They are powerful ways to express one’s faith, and communicate it to others. They nurture us, enrich us, inspire us, uplift us.

The Very Rev. Peter Elliott, adjunct faculty instructor at VST and long-time friend of Herb and Paula, adds these thoughts about the relevance of the O’Driscoll Forum project to our time and our world…

The purpose of preaching, from New Testament times to now, is to proclaim the inbreaking of God’s reign into all aspects of human life. In the context of today’s world, such a proclamation will inevitably address the same themes as Jesus did in his first sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4.16-20) where his text was from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Isaiah 61.1-2)

This text, the foundation of Jesus’ ministry, is about justice for the poor, equality for all who are oppressed, the dignity of all of God’s beloved children, and the inclusion of all people in God’s vision of shalom. Preachers, through their words and teaching, have a key role to play in building up communities where justice, equity, dignity and inclusion are fostered.

Our Action Plan to Make the O’Driscoll Forum a Reality

The Steering Committee for the O’Driscoll Forum has entered into an agreement with Vancouver School of Theology to establish and host the forum as part of its annual Summer School. Going forward, all donations should be directed to VST and VST will issue tax receipts.

On May 17, 2022, VST will host a public launch of the fundraising campaign as we reach for our target of $300,000.

Your gift is important. Please consider what you are able to contribute and take action now to help build the momentum that will create the O’Driscoll Forum.

Donate

Donate Online

Donate

By Mail

Please download the VST Donation Form and mail to:

Development Office
Vancouver School of Theology
6015 Walter Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

Please make cheques payable to Vancouver School of Theology, noted for O’Driscoll Forum

Gifts of Publicly Traded Securities

Please download the Charitable Donations of Securities Form and mail to:

Development Office
Vancouver School of Theology
6015 Walter Road
Vancouver, BC  V6T 1Z1
Canada

Contact

For more information, or to discuss your interest in making a pledge, please contact one of the members of the O’Driscoll Forum Steering Committee: