San Francisco’s Best Preacher

Schuyler Rhodes T’86

The oratory talent that the Rev. Schuyler Rhodes brought to campus this year as part of Drew’s Prophetic Leaders in Residence series is also winning him praise back home in California. In its 2009 “Best of San Francisco” issue, SF Weekly named Rhodes the city’s “Best Preacher” for sermons that blend “scholarly richness, narrative skill and a recurring message of social justice leavened with homey irreverence.”

In particular, the newspaper applauded Rhodes, pastor at the city’s Temple United Methodist Church, for sermons that take “inspiration from economic hardship, with lessons about the importance of community and the value of grace and forgiveness when times become so tough that loved ones lash out at each other.” Says Rhodes, “Jesus came to preach the good news, to feed the hungry, to lift up the brokenhearted. If we’re not doing that, we’re not the church.”

True to that ideal, Temple UMC, whose members represent 14 different ethnic groups, offers ESL classes and runs a food pantry that serves more than 200 families each week. Other services include a soon-to-launch immigration law clinic, a bag lunch program for the homeless in the Tender­loin District and a community garden.

Last spring at Drew, Rhodes talked to students about ministering in multi­cultural settings as part of a series sponsored by the Theo School’s Communities of Shalom. “It’s not enough to learn theology and the Bible,” says Rhodes, the author of several books, including A Journey Through the Psalms: Reflections for Troubled Times. “You need to think about what it means to be a leader of a congregation and help it grow.”—Amy Vames


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