Best Preacher - 2009
Reverend Schuyler Rhodes
Among the many benefits of the 2008 presidential election has been a new American appreciation for great oratory. San Franciscans are doubly blessed, because our city is host to many churches with preachers who are part of the same liberal Protestant tradition that has informed the style and substance of Barack Obama's greatest speeches. Among the best of these preachers is Schuyler Rhodes, pastor of Temple United Methodist Church near San Francisco State University. His sermons combine scholarly richness, narrative skill, and a recurring message of social justice leavened with homey irreverence. His sermons lately have mined 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. During one recent pulpit talk, Rhodes told how authority figures let him off the hook during his rabble-rouser youth: "Grace, you see, is free by its very definition. It's undeserved love that comes to you, particularly, at the moment when you don't deserve it." Amen.