August 2, 2016
In a world that is less and less biblically literate—and where even many churchgoers are unfamiliar with Scripture—the Rev. Casey FitzGerald loves to tell the Bible’s story.
FitzGerald, a biblical storyteller, believes a return to the oral tradition of sharing the stories of God is essential for the formation of disciples. She will be one of the plenary speakers at the upcoming Go Disciple Live “Be the Light” Conference, to be held in St. Pete Beach, Florida, August 8–11.
Although FitzGerald regularly writes about storytelling on her website, Faith & Wonder, and podcasts at Story Divine, she says that while her web presence is designed to teach people tools to use in biblical storytelling, the practice of it is “meant to be witnessed in person.”
“It’s an interaction between the teller and the congregation, or the teller and the audience,” she says. “The experience can’t be captured on video in the same way it can be experienced in person. Since biblical storytelling is another manifestation of the Word becoming flesh, because of its embodiment, it’s significant to participate in it in the flesh.”
FitzGerald’s own conversion to the art occurred four years ago, at a continuing education event where she experienced Tracy Radosevic telling a story.
“I watched her, and was so drawn in by her that I said, ‘I want to do that,’” recalls FitzGerald, who later enrolled in a yearlong biblical storytelling certification program though the Academy for Biblical Storytelling. “What was immediately striking to me is that this was the only continuing education event that I ever attended where I could go home and—for no cost and with no involvement of anyone other than myself and Scripture—do the very thing that I had just learned. And I did. It’s making me a disciple in a whole new way.”
The certification process also made FitzGerald engage her own context in the church more fully
“To tell stories here,” she said, referring to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where she serves as an associate pastor, “started affecting my faith and spiritual life and relationship with Scripture. It was like I was hearing the stories for the first time. It has also affected a lot of different parts of the church’s ministry, including the children of the church, who know Scripture far better than I did at their age. The key to the church in the future is returning to the text—to the stories—and taking them seriously enough to know that it is a living text, and part of the way that it lives is how it interacts with our own story.”
FitzGerald believes that stories—by heart—should be told by many and varied people.
“It does not belong in the mouths of just preachers,” she says. “The story is not meant just for professional storytellers to tell.”
Emily Enders Odom, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: National Capital Presbytery
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Let us pray
Dear Father, thank you for the opportunities you have given us to spread your word. Help us to serve you in all our words and actions and to show your love to the entire world. Thank you. Amen.