Kayaking at BdeMakaSka - Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

Festival Blog

2019 Festival of Homiletics - Minneapolis

"Preaching as Moral Imagination"



Speaker Profile: Joanna Adams


Retired pastor in the Presbyterian church and co-founder of Higher Ground

Joanna Adams is a preacher, pastor, and teacher known for building bridges of understanding in both the community and in the church.

A graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, Rev. Adams holds an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Davidson College and was awarded the Alumni Association Medal of Honor from Emory University and Columbia’s Distinguished Alumni/ae award. She has also served as a trustee of the Presbyterian Church Foundation, trustee of Agnes Scott College, and chair of the Board of Trustees for Columbia Theological Seminary.

In 2006, the Rev. Adams was named Georgia Woman of the Year and has been featured in Atlanta Magazine as one of the forty-five most loved Atlantans. In 2014, she was named Woman of the Year by the YWCA of Greater Atlanta.  

She has preached at the National Cathedral, the Memorial Church of Harvard University, and the Chautauqua Institution, as well as at many Presbyterian and ecumenical events.  She has authored over 40 published articles, sermons, and chapters in books.  

Rev. Adams has been involved in starting more than a dozen non-profit organizations.  Recently, she chaired the board of Intown Collaborative Ministries, a new initiative designed to address the long term needs of people who are chronically homeless in the Ponce de Leon area of Atlanta.  She has also coordinated a series of Christian/Jewish dialogues in Atlanta under the sponsorship of the Institute of Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore, MD. For five years, she and four other clergy leaders in Atlanta made up Higher Ground, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, which encouraged civil discourse and brought insight and wisdom from their different religious traditions to bear on contemporary challenges. For several years, through the Macedonia Project of the CF Foundation, Rev. Adams worked with a number of Presbyterian pastors to help them improve their leadership effectiveness.
From 2013-2014, she served as Interim Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian church, Atlanta, GA. Prior to that, she was Senior Pastor of Morningside Presbyterian Church, Trinity Presbyterian Church, and North Decatur Presbyterian Church, all in the Atlanta area.  She began her ministry as Associate Pastor and Minister to the Community at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta and served for two years as Co-Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.  

Across the years, Joanna has chaired the boards of five institutions, including that of Columbia Theological Seminary, the YWCA of Metro Atlanta and Our House, the first center in Dekalb County designed to serve families who are homeless and their children. Overall, she has served on the boards of over twenty organizations that strive to help the least, the lost, and the left out.  When pastor of Trinity, the Agape Center was begun, which  has transformed the lives of countless young people and senior citizens.

Festival Schedule

May 20th - 11:00am - Peachtree Road United Methodist - Sermon in worship 
Currently she is on the boards of the Grady Hospital Foundation,
Skyland Trail, the Rockdale Foundation, Day 1, the Ansley Park Civic Association, and Presbyterian Homes of Georgia.  
Joanna and her husband, Atlanta attorney Alfred B. Adams III, have a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren.

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