Beginning today, the Academy of Preachers officially has a new address: 500 North Watterson Trail, Louisville, Kentucky, 40243.
Write us a letter: offer congratulations, make a contribution, send the name of a young preacher, volunteer to help with the Festival of Young Preachers, write a prayer.
Our address is also the address of Middletown Christian Church, our new sponsoring partner. The church has given us prime space on their campus: a splendid room with glass wall facing the administrative offices and an opposite glass wall looking out over the almost-enclosed mall of grass. It is perfect in all respects.
The phone number is 502-245-9793, extension 123. Call it today and ask for the Executive Director. His name is Lee Huckleberry. Yes, yesterday was Lee's last day as Senior Consultant. For two years he has been working hard developing and serving the Academy for a small monthly stipend. Today he begins his career as the second employee of the Academy. He will manage the office, oversee the finances, handle all correspondence, and plan meetings and events.
Which means that I must take a new title.....President. This title corresponds to my more focused role: writing and speaking on behalf of young preachers; developing partnerships with businesses, congregations, denominations, organizations, and institutions; meeting with donors: individuals, corporations, and foundations; and envisioning what the future of the Academy of Preachers might look like.
In the coming months, the Academy of Preachers will incorporate, write by-laws, recruit a national board of directors, file for non-profit, tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, and launch our own endowment.
The future is promising for the Academy of Preachers. Today is a giant step forward into that future. We thank you and we give glory to God.
And did I say: today is also the second birthday of my one and only grandchild, Sam (new picture up on my Facebook page) and also the 38th anniversary of my marriage to Jan (on a beautiful Saturday morning in the courtyard of Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church on Iron Works Pike, with service performed by Rev. Walter Price). It is a very good day, indeed.
Sometime this past January the Living Faith Baptist Church began a pastoral search process that is sure to commend itself to many congregations. They went online to the Academy site on YouTube and watched a series of videos taken at the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers in January of 2010.
There are 92 of these videos on YouTube and I have watched every one of them. Some are very good; most are good; a few are mediocre. Some of the young preachers prepared better than others!
After watching a series of the sermon videos, a member of the church search committee called me and said, "We have found one of these young preachers we like. Can you give us a recommendation?"
Indeed, I could, and did; and the church interviewed him, and went to hear him preach in person, and invited him to their church to preach in view of a call; which he did; and two weeks later they voted to call him as pastor. I rejoice with him and am grateful our festival videos played a small role in the successful search of this congregation.
I predict this will become the norm. Already, many churches request a video from an aspiring preacher or pastor. But at the Academy site a committee can view many of these videos easily, quickly, and without complications. Perhaps other churches have already done this because the festival sermon videos have been viewed more than 10,200 times!! This is 17 times as many people as registered for the festival!
Young preachers seeking a place to serve would do well to register for the 2011 festival, scheduled for January 6-8, in Louisville, Kentucky. You will get a wide hearing and you never know who will see your sermon video and give you a call.
Church and denominations seeking to recruit and call young ministers would do well to attend the festival in January; but if that is not possible, log on to this web site and watch all of it streamed live; and if that is not possible, go to our YouTube site and sit for an hour or two watching sermon videos. You just might see the young man or woman that is perfect for your congregation! It is the wave of the future.
Oh, by the way, his name: Roger Jasper!
Written by Adam Quine
St. Francis of Assisi has been accredited with the quote that goes something like this, "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."
Although these words offer a profound, gentle reminder of the call to live our lives as followers of Jesus, I think the too-often-quoted saint would have made an exception for the 92 young preachers who made our way to a snowy Louisville, Kentucky for the first Festival of Young Preachers, hosted by the Academy of Preachers, an event whose sole function is to encourage and empower young people desiring to follow God's call into preaching.
Sometime late in 2009, my colleague and friend, Dr. Jonathan E. Carroll, came to me with some exciting news about this idea for a 'preaching festival' where young people could come, be together, and preach. It was definitely easy to see his excitement about this concept, but I, who don't have the same way with words as he does, responded with hesitation. Now I've seen what words can do and how preaching, especially if it is done well, can inspire many people in to be the change they wish to see in the world. But, the idea of 91 of my peers dissecting and cross examining my preaching really didn't sound like a fun way to spend three days. However my fear was quickly put to rest when it was made clear the Festival would offer only constructive criticism for my benefit.
Intrigued and inspired, we headed east, hoping my fears wouldn't overcome my six page sermon. When the day finally arrived for me to preach, what little anxiety I had diminished when I was warmly greeted by the Festival's hospitable staff. There was little confusion in regards to where or when I might preach; it was all laid out and explained perfectly clear. Because of the great organization and because of the friendly volunteers, I had all morning to focus clearly on my sermon; after all I was the second one up on the first day of the event. I was ecstatic to 'get it out of the way early,' and I hope to get that good deal next year as well!
Once I preached, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the Festival. I found myself closely studying each person in the program. By using their "I preach..." statements, I mapped out who I wanted to scope out. Yet, after hearing the first sermon, then the second, and then seeing the different texts being used, I wasn't sure who I wanted to see; so I began wandering around and was able to listen to many great sermons. This is what made the festival so enjoyable: being able to go at your own pace to listen to others preach, to see the different styles of preaching, to encounter Scripture with those who view the world differently, and to see preaching for what it really is, an art.
We received a couple good lessons from the worship leaders and preachers who led us, too. Each of the preachers selected to speak during the evening worship services had their own style, came from different traditions, and brought a unique perspective on the art of the sermon. Again, this is yet another way the Festival set itself apart as the only event of its kind. No matter where you came from, no matter what you were preaching, no matter how much or how little schooling you may have received, you were welcomed to come and preach-and we learned from one another. Personally the process of preparing and writing the sermon, then delivering it, and then hearing how other experienced it reminded me of just how transforming a sermon can be.
Frederick Buechner says in his great little sermon titled The Gospel as Fairy Tale, "Let the preacher stretch our imagination and strain our thinking and make our jaws drop." That is what a preacher is called to do, and this happened at the Festival of Young Preachers. By participating in it, my call to proclaim God's good news had been rekindled, and yet, discovered anew. I'm grateful for the work and time put in to this festival by Dr. Moody, the Academy's Board of Advisers, and other consultants. Through their hard work, the Festival became a great stepping stone for young preachers like me, and good steps have been made in restoring the value of preaching and the power words can have on society.
As for next year: I'm looking forward to trying a different style at what will be the second Festival of Young Preachers.
(Adam is a student at Greenville College and was sponsored at the 2010 Festival of Young Preachers by First Presbyterian Church in Owensboro. During the 2010 Festival of Young Preachers, Adam preached from Mark 1:1-8. To watch Adam's sermon on YouTube, click here.)
I wrote Coach John Calapari two weeks ago and asked him to make a donation to the Academy of Preachers--well, not exactly to the Academy but to his archbishop, the Reverend Joseph Kurtz of Louisville.
Rev. Kurtz is hosting four events of next year's National Festival of Young Preachers. While the majority of the preaching, especially during the day, will be in the Seelbach Hilton Hotel, the Cathedral of the Assumption is hosting a reception, a worship service, a lunch, and the closing convocation. So the coach, if he responds to our appeal, will help his archbishop host the festival, and that helps us.
Last week I called an old friend whose son preached at the 2010 festival of young preachers. The young man's alma mater wants to host a campus festival for their students and prospective students. I want to encourage them, so I call my friend, whose pastor attended the 2010 festival as a mentor and has since retired (not that there is any connection between the two events!), and asked if he thought we could raise several thousand dollars in honor of his retiring pastor to underwrite the cost of the campus festival including 3-4 scholarships to the national festival in January 2011. He said, "Sure!"
In both of these cases, the donations do not come directly to the Academy, but to a church or a university. But indirectly they help us, and this is why I work to secure this type of funding.
Of course, we need our share of donations. Today's mail brought $2,000 in gifts. This helps us toward our Spring 2011 goal of $50,000. We are planning fund-raising events in Owensboro and Louisville, Kentucky, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (and anywhere else there is an interest).
This $50,000 goal is part of a larger two-year campaign to secure $200,000 for the Academy. The Lilly Endowment is generous in launching our endeavor and in providing support for salaries and administration; but they do not fund our programs: leadership team, preaching camp, festival of young preachers. So we are seeking your support.
Can you help us? All donations are tax deductable. They will be used to pay the cost of these three events: festivals, camps, and the leadership team. Give what you can and help us find people who will invest in the next generation of great preachers.
And if Coach Calipari sends in that donation, I will let you know!
The Academy of Preachers is launching its first coordinated appeal to donors: help us raise $50,000 this spring.
Yes, the Academy has received a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, but that grant does not cover the preaching camps this spring, the festival of young preachers next January, the Young Preachers Leadership Team, and certain other program costs. The Endowment is committed to providing initial funding for basic organizational and personnel costs--but those also will eventually need fresh streams of revenue as the investment of the Lilly Endowment subsides.
So, we are looking for individuals and organizations who wish to partner with us to "identify, network, support, and inspire young people who answer a call to gospel preaching."
The first contribution to our spring 2010 campaign comes from the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Truett Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. They sent a check for $2,000. The Lake Center at Truett Seminary is one of the 50 Founding Partners of the Academy of Preachers. They will collaborate with us to host a campus festival this fall in Waco.
There are any number of specific needs to which a donor might contribute and these are listed elsewhere on this web site: see BE A DONOR.
The Academy will be hosting fund-raising events in such cities as Louisville, Owensboro, and Lexington. We will also host events aimed at specific Christian groups such as Disciples, Roman Catholics, and Methodists.
All gifts are tax deductable. Checks should be made payable to Academy of Preachers and sent to Academy of Preachers, 500 North Watterson Trail, Louisville, Kentucky, 40234.
Four new institutional partners sent letters of endorsement in the last two week of March. This enabled the Academy to reach one of its goals for the first 15 months of our work: 50 Founding Partners.
The first came as a result of a phone call from California. Shantha Ready Alonza is the (interim) executive director of New Fire Young Adults, a fresh initiative of the National Council of Churches. "I have heard about what you are doing," she said, "and we want to be a part of it." Her letter was a follow-up to that intention. New Fire became Founding Partner #47.
Then came the phone call with Doug Low, professor and dean of the Chapman Seminary at Oakland City University in Oakland City, Indiana. I had visited their campus last year and two of their students preached in the inaugural festival of young preachers in January. Their partnership letter took a long way around, through multiple administrative channels, before reaching my possession. They became Partner #48.
Same story with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Four of their students preached at the festival and a professor was the leader of our worship team. Now two of their professors are engaged and more of their students will be at the festival next January. But we welcome the school as Founding Partner #49.
Finally, on my sixtieth birthday, professor of ministry Stephanie Paulsell of Harvard Divinity School sent me their letter of endorsement and association. Dr. Paulsell was one of three featured preachers at the festival in January and two of their students were among the 92 young preachers at the festival. They are planning to offer a preaching course built around the next festival, scheduled for January 6-8, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.
We welcome these, and we thank all 50 of the Founding Partners; see the complete list elsewhere on this website. You have helped us get established as a viable, credible organization. While we anticipate working with many more organizations and businesses over the years, only these 50 will have the distinction of being a Founding Partner.
This was the second of our three goals to be reached. The first was: register at least 100 young preachers for the inaugural festival--which we did. And now we turn our attention to the third goal: fund-raising. Over the next three months we are seeking to raise $50,000. You will read more about this very soon.
The Archdiocese of Louisville becomes the first Roman Catholic institution or organization to become a Founding Partner with the Academy of Preachers. This further solidifies the Academy as one of the most ecumenical initiatives in American Christianity today.
Archishop Joseph Kurtz attended the final session of the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers in Louisville; he brought the greetings to the entire assembly; and in addition, the choir from the Cathedral of the Assumption sang two anthems.
"The work of the Academy of Preachers," Archbishop Kurtz wrote in his letter, "is a noble and needed ecumenical enterprise in today's world. Please accept my prayerful best wishes for the young men and women who will be entrusted with Gospel preaching in a mélange of ministerial settings. May countless men, women and children come to know Christ through the voices of those who will serve in the vocation of preachers."
Father Martin Linebach, associate pastor of the Cathedral in Louisville, has been serving on the board of advisors for a year. Brother Thomas Gricoski of the Order of St. Benedict has served on the Young Preachers Leadership Team. He is now preparing for graduation from St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. Four Roman Catholics were among the 92 young preachers who participated in the Festival of Young Preachers.
On top of all this, I am pleased to announce that the Cathedral of the Assumption will be our official host church for the 2011 Festival of Young Preachers. Current plans call for an open reception at the Cathedral on Thursday evening, January 6, a plenary worship service on Friday evening at the Cathedral, and a final, closing ceremony on Saturday noon also at the Cathedral.
We welcome all the Roman Catholics to the Academy of Preachers just as we do any one who is called by God to proclaim the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Let us all encourage one another in the work we have been commissioned to do.
Perri Costley is a 15-year-old girl in Atlanta, Georgia, and I am sure she had never heard of the Academy of Preachers until last Saturday. That's when the primary newspaper of America's sixth largest city published a story about her, and about us! Read it here.
They featured Perri because she is a young preacher developing a considerable following the the metro area. The writer (Sheila Poole) expanded the feature to investigate what support there is for young preachers. Her research led her to our web site. So she called, and we talked, and she recorded, and she published. It is good publicity, to be sure, worth far more than we could pay. Who knows if it will be picked up by other papers?
Ms. Poole did mention our three preaching camps this summer, one of which is going to be covered (we are led to believe) by the New York Times. I am hopeful that young Perri will register to attend; but I know that Eric Vance will be at the Nashville camp. He is a 17-year-old preacher looking for just what we offer: recognition, encouragement, direction, and opportunity. He read about us in the paper, visited our web site, downloaded the camp registration form, and is in the process of sending it in.
Eric is a Lutheran, and I am glad of that because his tradition is one that was not represented among the 92 young preachers at the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers in January. That is largely because there are no Lutheran institutions (colleges, universities, seminaries) in our original target region (Louisville, and extending 150 miles in all directions).But we are expanding from coast to coast now and are happily engaging with Lutheran ministers throughout the nation.
I am eager to meet Eric and Perri and other young preachers in the Atlanta area. We are having a preaching camp there this summer; and it is a very real possibility that Atlanta will be a site of a festival of young preachers--and in the very near future!
Keep spreading the word: the Gospel word and the Academy word!
It might be a good time to share some news from our Young Preachers Leadership Team. Two women who rotated off the Team have celebrated major life milestones.
Kara Hildebrandt was ordained in December at the First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky (the church where she serves as associate pastor). Kara was also selected to represent the Academy of Preachers on the centennial planning committee of the National Council of Churches--youth initiative, called New Fire.
In February, Caela Simmons Wood gave birth to her firstborn, a son named Maitland. She posted a long introduction to the name on her Facebook page. Her pregnancy, in addition to her ordination to the gospel ministry under the auspices of the United Church of Christ, prevented her from attending the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers.
Word comes from Winterbourne Jones, of Washington DC and a senior at Fisk University that he has received the Presidential Scholarship offered to incoming students at Colgate Rochester Crosier Divinity School. It is the school, he writes, of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Howard Thurman.
Tanner White continues his students at Christ Church College of Oxford University, in Oxford, England, a commitment which also entailed his missing the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers. Brother Thomas Gricoski, a member of the Benedictine Abby of St. Meinrad in Indiana, will graduate in May from the seminary there and move to Belgium to pursue a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree in philosophy. (Sounds redundant, doesn't it?)
Jonathan Scott, a student at Oakland City University in Indiana, is the pastor of Francisco Church of the Nazarene and Scott Claybrook is on the ministerial staff of Northwest Baptist Church in Atlanta.
That's all the news I have (and some of that is not really news, as it happened last year!). But as I learn more about the 6 new members of the Leadership Team I will share that with you.
Six young preachers from 6 states have been selected for the Leadership Team. These join 10 remaining from the inaugural Leadership Team to constitute the 2010 Young Preachers Leadership Team.
John Jay Alvaro, a student at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina, and participates in the Gathering Church also in Durham. Willie Francois is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and now attends Harvard Divinity School in Boston. Both of these young men have spiritual and vocational roots in the Baptist tradition.
Adam Graham graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville and now attends Vanderbilt Divinity School also in Nashville. Krista Phillips hails from Louisville, Kentucky, attends Hanover College in Indiana, and is just beginning her search for a seminary. Adam comes from a Church of Christ background and Krista is a Presbyterian.
Daniel Rudy is a member of Glad Valley Church of the Brethren in Walkersville, Maryland, but attends Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Indiana. Darnell Tingle is associate pastor of the Wesley Center AME Zion Church in Pittsburgh, and attends United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
These six, all preachers at the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers in January, 2010, join 10 other young preachers from the 2009 Leadership Team to form the new network of ministers shaping the mission and programs of the Academy of Preachers. These 10 are: Tanner White (now a student at Oxford University), CJ Childs (Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville), Scott Claybrook (McAfee Divinity School in Atlanta), Steven Harris (Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville), JC Campbell (Georgetown College in Kentucky), Christian Smith (Northern Kentucky University), Alex Williams (a graduate of Cincinnati Christian University), Jonathan Scott (Oakland City University), and Winterbourne Jones and Brandon Perkins (both of Fisk University in Nashville).
The Young Preachers Leadership Team will convene for the second Preaching Camp, June 6-11, in Atlanta, Georgia. Their role is to represent the Academy on campus and in public, to prepare for and assist with the national Festival of Young Preachers in January, and to advise the Academy staff on the mission and programs of the Academy.
The Academy may adjust the membership of the Leadership Team as needs demand. Those interested in serving on the 2011 Leadership Team may complete an application which will be posted on the Academy web site in early fall. Leadership Team members may serve up to 3 years.