Dr. Rev. Fred Craddock, noted teacher and author on preaching who influenced a generation of United Methodist pastors during his time at the Candler School of Theology died earlier today. Julie Jabaley, Executive Director of the Craddock Center confirmed that Craddock passed yesterday. While the specific cause of death is undetermined, Jabaley noted that Craddock had been struggling with Parkinson’s Disease for several years, and that it is believed that his death is connected to that illness.
Craddock served as the Bandy Distinguished Professor of Preaching during his time at Candler, and continued to serve as an emeritus professor in retirement. Dr. Thomas G. Long, who currently holds Craddock’s former position, said that Craddock’s role in affecting preaching in America is immense.
“Fred Craddock was a national treasure and a devoted servant of the church and Jesus Christ. His impact on preaching – in terms both of scholarship and practice – is incalculable,” Long said. “On the scholarly side, his 1971 book As One Without Authority tilted the homiletical world on its axis and is arguably the most significant book in preaching to appear in the last 100 years. In that book, Fred Craddock articulated a form of proclamation that he called “inductive preaching.” In the inductive approach, the preacher, instead of announcing the main idea of the sermon at the beginning and then unpacking that idea in three or more didactic “points,” would work cooperatively with the hearers toward the disclosure of the sermon’s idea near the sermon’s end, usually experienced as a mutual discovery and shared burst of insight.”
In the years after retiring from academia, Craddock has been an active speaker and lecturer about preaching and faith, and founded The Craddock Center, a non-profit service ministry that serves children in North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Ordained as a minister in the Disciples of Christ, Craddock served as the pastor emeritus of the Cherry Log Christian Church in the North Georgia mountains at the time of his death.
According to the Cherry Log Christian Church and The Craddock Center visitation with his family will be on Sunday, March 8th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Akins Funeral Home in Blue Ridge, GA. Dr. Craddock’s funeral will be Monday, March 9th at 2:00 p.m. at Cherry Log Christian Church.
Facebook was filled with words of thanks and grief for Craddock’s influence, both as a scholar and as a person. Don Saliers, the retired professor of worship and a colleague of Craddock’s at Candler expressed the feelings of many in his post:
The world lost a most remarkable man today. Fred Craddock has gone from us. Those of us who had the privilege of calling him colleague and friend know what a light has been extinguished. Anyone who ever heard him preach or who were in his classes are forever blessed by his life and work. He was friend, mentor, a compassionate caretaker of words that made a difference and, above all, a faithful servant of the Word. We will not see his like again. May Light Perpetual shine upon him, and mercies surround Nettie and the family. Thank you, Fred, for all your gifts among us.