Drew Theological School Remembers Charles L. Rice

The former professor of homiletics was honored with a painting donation

November 2023 – Drew Theological School remembered the late Charles Rice, former professor of homiletics from 1970-2002, with a reception in his honor.

The reception, attended by current and former faculty and alums, featured the unveiling of “Ministry of Clouds,” a painting created to honor Rice by his spouse, Robert Barker.

The painting hangs in the Seminary Hall atrium, a space built as part of the renovation and expansion of Seminary Hall. The project, completed in 2005, was spearheaded by Rice. Drew has dedicated a plaque to accompany the painting.

“Charles was a mystery and a feeling,” said Barker. “From now on, there will be a space for his legacy and his style of preaching.”

“The addition would not have been possible without the good work of many people, especially Dr. Charles Rice and Bob Barker,” said Theological School Dean Edwin David Aponte.

Associate Dean for Formation and Vocation Tanya Linn Bennett remembered one of her first classes at Drew, Church at Worship, taught by Rice. “I appreciated Charles’ gentleness about teaching us to find our preaching voice,” she said. “It was Charles that reminded us of our authenticity at the pulpit—what it meant to come just as who we are. He was helpful in honing my skills as a worship leader.”

Blair MacInnes T‘97 was on the original committee to renovate Seminary Hall, “a building that was woefully inadequate to what was going on here,” she said. “This building would not be here without Charles. It’s a beautiful and light space, and it has Charles written all over it.”

Associate Teaching Professor of Language and Culture Kathie Brown, remembered Rice’s sense of hospitality. “The atrium is a place to come together. He was an elegant person with elegant taste and a concern for what is beautiful. His spirit will carry on here.”

“I always found his sermons magnificent—so crystalized, elegant, dignified with an affect of lucid love; never a hint of sentimentality, never a dogmatic overstatement,” said George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology Catherine Keller. “A beautiful type of homiletics based on poetic faithfulness.”

In addition to teaching at Drew, Rice was an ordained deacon at the Church of the Messiah in Chester, New Jersey, and was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in Grace Church in Madison, New Jersey, by Bishop John Shelby Spong. He served at St. Peter’s Church in Morristown, New Jersey, as priest associate and interim rector.

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