- Young Preachers
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.
During the course of a three-day weekend, June 25-27, 2010, the Academy of Preachers received donations totaling $57,000. Even we were surprised!
Most of the activity surrounded an event held in the home of Dan and Anne Greenwell. They serve on the Academy Support Team at Middletown Christian Church, which sponsored the event. Some 30 people attended this event and most made either a contribution or a pledge.
Included at the event were two young preachers, Alex Williams and Katie Beachy, both of whom spoke about their experiences at with the Academy (and the Festival of Young Preachers and the Preaching Camp). Also in attendance were Academy personnel, Lee Huckleberry (soon to be the Executive Director) and myself (Dwight A. Moody). Middletown pastor David Emery was also present.
The successful fund-raising weekend brings the total money raised during this Spring 2010 effort to more than $68,000, which exceeds our three-month goal of $50,000 and puts us a good way toward our 18-month goal of $200,000. And we still have two days remaining in June! Who knows what might happen in these two days.
The Academy raises money to underwrite our programs for young preachers: the festival of young preachers, our preaching camps, and the Young Preachers Leadership Team. Basic administrative and personnel costs of the Academy are covered, in these first years, through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment.
The second national Festival of Young Preachers will be held January 6-8, 2011, at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel and the adjacent Cathedral of the Assumption, both in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. All registration forms are elsewhere on this web site. Registrations are now being received for the conference and housing.
All gifts to the Academy are tax deductable through our hosting partnership with Middletown Christian Church. Donations can be sent to Academy of Preachers, 500 North Watterson Trail, Louisville, Kentucky 40243.
The antidote to the aging, declining, eroding, lackluster church in the United States is to infuse it with more young people. That is the philosophy of the Academy of Preachers.
"They must learn to wait their turn," one pastor told me. It is probably the most remarkable and retrograde statement made to me in my two year advocacy of young preachers.
Actually my promotion of young preachers began long ago, intensified during my 11-year tenure as dean of the chapel at Georgetown College, and came to full fruition in my work launching the Academy of Preachers. Our goal is to give young preachers an opportunity, to open doors, to introduce them to people who can help them.
All denominational gatherings need to embrace the value of young preachers; so here my challenge to denominational organizers: make a place for young preachers on every assembly, every convention, every conference. Religious meetings are, left to right, liberal to conservative, dominated by grey hair men talking to more grey hair men. I know: I am one of them. I have met the enemy, as they say, and it is me!
Make way for young preachers. They are good. They are full of the spirit. They are not tainted by weariness in ministry; they are not burnt out in church life; they have not lost their utter abandonment to the gospel of Jesus Christ; they do not weigh every vocational decision by what effect it might have on their annuity; they are lusting for power or position. All they want is an opportunity to bear witness to Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
That National Conference on Preaching, the Hampton Ministers Conference, and the Festival of Homiletics: these lead the way in reaching preachers with inspiration and instruction. I call upon those who plan these programs: create a track for young preachers. It will inspire all of us old people; it will make us willing to share our energy, our opportunities, even our honors and our income to support these young preachers.
"Let no one despise you because of your youth." That is the word of God for us today.
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!
For 18 months, the Academy of Preachers sought to recruit 50 Founding Partners. This was an effort to secure the endorsement and cooperation of established and recognized organizations and institutions.
That effort was successfully concluded on March 30, 2010, when a letter of partnership was received from Harvard Divinity School.
Now the search is under way to expand that network of support. The Academy is seeking what we are calling National Partners. While our first effort focused upon the region inclusive of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee (and 36 of the Founding Partners are from that designated region) we are now expanding our appeal to businesses, congregations, denominations, organizations, and institutions nationwide. And I am glad to report that we have our first National Partner.
The Volunteers of America, Southeast, with headquarters in Mobile, Alabama has submitted a letter of partnership. They heard about our work through a Kentucky-native, Alabama-resident preacher Terry Ellis.
"Volunteers of America is a church," explained CEO Wallace T. Davis, "but not the sort of church you think of when you hear that word. We have a remarkable web of ministries, some of which are well-known in communities around the country. But we do have network of preachers, as well, and we want to get them involved in the Academy of Preachers."
We have discussed with Davis and his staff the possibility of the VOA hosting their own internal festival of young preachers; and of course, we are eager for our young preachers to learn more about the varied ministries of the Volunteers of America.
We welcome National Partners such as the Volunteers of America. Their interest illustrates the wide varied of organizations that take serious the role of preaching in Christian mission and ministry. We look forward to collaboration with many more such partners.
It was a good day for the Academy of Preachers. First, Katie McNeal wrote to say she would accept an invitation to join the Young Preachers Leadership Team. Katie attended last week's preaching camp in Crestwood, Kentucky.
"Going into the week, I really didn't know what to expect," she wrote. "What I experienced surpassed any expectations I had." What she experienced, of course, was the spiritual camaraderie of other young preachers who are looking past racial, theological, and denominational barriers to encourage each other as gospel preachers. Katie is a resident of Pittsburgh, a sophomore at Wittenburg College in Ohio, and active in a Lutheran (ELCA) congregation.
Second, the Academy received letters of endorsement from two new National Partners. Fabric of Life Coaching is the ministry of Danville, Kentucky pastor Tommy Valentine. "Having served as a coach at two of the Academy's preaching camps," he writes, "I have seen first hand the value of the Academy's mission and wholeheartedly support its work."
Baptist Women in Ministry of Atlanta, Georgia also writes a word of encouragement. Executive Director Pam Durso hopes "to attend [the National Festival of Young Preachers] in January and to have an exhibit and perhaps host a lunch for the Baptist women participants." She then lists five other ways they plan to partner with the Academy of Preachers.
Finally, the mail today brought two checks totaling $300. They came from a pastor in Pennsylvania and an educator in Glasgow, Kentucky. This pushes us past the $10,000 mark in our spring campaign to raise $50,000. Every little bit helps and we are glad to receive these two men as new donors to the Academy of Preachers.
We thank all of our growing network of supporters for every word of encouragement, every act of partnership, and every dollar invested in our mission to "identify, network, support, and inspire" young people in their calling to gospel preaching. God bless you all.
Maybe my title is overly dramatic; time will tell. But I heard some things last week that settled in my soul and sparked a resolve to reshape my future. Let me tell you about them.
What I heard came from young preachers. "We are not the future of the church," Christian Smith, a rising sophomore at Northern Kentucky University, said in a sermon during Preaching Camp. "We are the church now." They all preached four times, and as the week progressed the sermons got better: better ideas, better delivery. I listened; I was touched; I made up my mind to change some things.
Hanover College junior Krista Phillips preached a sermon from the commandment, "You shall not steal." What she said to a room full of preachers was this: failure to preach is stealing from the people. "I got it from Calvin," she explained later. But it struck me profoundly. I have largely given up preaching, but these words confirmed a growing sense that I should not abandon my calling just because I am now "identifying, networking, supporting, and inspiring" young preachers. What I need is a preaching post: jail, street corner, sanctuary, or house. This is my renewed prayer: "Lord, give me a place to preach."
Duke Divinity School student John Jay Alvaro preached a sermon from the commandment, "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy." He was not the only one to take this theme, but his words stuck in my memory. "Put the books in a case and zip it up." He was describing now he, a graduate student, had practiced the day of rest. It triggered notions of similar strategies in my head: turning off the computer, putting down the cell phone, even closing the preaching books and hanging up the car keys. I know it sounds legalistic, but I think I need such rules to help me benefit from the change of life that the Sabbath is designed to bring. Which is why I did not write this column when it first came to my mind.....during the Sabbath.
Finally, recent Fisk University graduate Brandon Perkins made this off-hand remark, not in a sermon, but at the dinner table. "I have lost 55 pounds this year by making one change in my habits," he said. "I quit eating pork and beef: nothing else." He looked slim and healthy and preached well, especially his final sermon, "A Lesson from Aaron" (which we will post in print and video format in our soon-to-be-unveiled new website). I don't want to lose 55 pound but perhaps 5-10 pounds (in part to combat high blood pressure). So I have determined to give his diet a try.
Good things come out of preaching camp, and these are just three of my fresh commitments. But there is much more, and already I have read many comments posted on Facebook by these young preachers. How I wish there would have been such opportunities when I was but 22.
We are gathered at Camp Kavanaugh, some 22 of us, tucked away in Crestwood, Kentucky, on the outskirts of Louisville. We are here for what I have called preaching camp but what the young preachers wish to call something else: what, exactly, they are not quite sure.
They began preaching Monday morning, sermons on the Ten Commandments. All afternoon they met with coaches, after attending a workshop on vocal dynamics. They stayed up past midnight to prepare. Then Tuesday morning they were at it again, preaching, all of them, a second sermon on the Ten Commandments.
This is the second year we have done this, and it is one of the most rewarding, enriching things I have ever done. Very soon, you can watch interviews with some of these young preachers over on our Facebook site.
Why do we do it? The best answer came in an email to me Tuesday afternoon. It was from a man who had come out to visit our camp. He sat and listened to several sermons then joined a lunch table full of young preachers. This is what he wrote to me:
"Two things stuck out to me; at least they were expressed by the folks at my table. (1) They wish they had more support from home. They said their parents and their relatives were not very encouraging about their calling. (2) All they want is an opportunity to preach."
This man heard the sad truth, and that sad truth has propelled the Academy as a place to "identify, network, support, and inspire" those who are called to gospel preaching. Unfortunately, many of these young people rarely get the opportunity to preach, even though each one of them is a powerful witness developing a compelling presentation of some piece of the good news.
It is an awesome week, and I rarely use that word. Today we visit the sites of our second national Festival of Young Preachers, and Thursday and Friday they preach sermons #3 and #4. Then we scatter; but we all hold each other in our hearts. We are a network of gospel preachers!
Beginning this summer, the Academy of Preachers will expand the target area of its pilot project to a 300 miles radius around Louisville. For the first 18 months, the area of focus was half that: 150 miles from Louisville in all directions.
That original area included Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Nashville, Evansville, and Bloomington. Most of the Founding Partners came from this area, such as Christian Theological Seminary, Cincinnati Christian University, Georgetown College, Lindsey Wilson College, Fisk University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Central District Baptist Association.
Not that this imaginary line kept others from hearing about the Academy: Truett Seminary in Texas, Morehouse College in Georgia, Beeson Divinity School in Alabama, Harvard Divinity School in Boston, and Southwest Baptist University in Missouri are a few of those who signed on early. Fully one third of the young preachers who came to Louisville to preach at the Festival of Young Preachers attend school outside this original target area.
The expanded region (stretching the 300 miles just a bit!) reaches north to Milwaukee and south to Birmingham, west past St. Louis and east into Virginia. Within this enlarged area are such centers of Christian leadership as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Memphis. The Academy will seek to introduce ourselves to Christian schools in these areas: Bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, universities, and seminaries.
We are making a renewed effort to attract National Partners (see elsewhere on this web site) and assist institutions in scheduling campus festivals and designing preaching courses to include the festival. And of course, the big thing: encouraging young preachers to register for the second national festival of young preachers (January 6-8, 2011) in Louisville, Kentucky.
While the intent of the Academy is to create a national network of young preachers, we are being careful to expand within our means and according to a plan. Of course, these plans do not prevent us from talking to individuals, organizations, and institutions at the far corners of the country. In fact, within the past seven days, I have had conversations with people in Boston, Portland, Mobile, and New York. We welcome your calls.
The Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis has been the initial and primary partner with the Academy of Preachers. It was the approval and endorsement of Vice President Craig Dykstra and Program Director Chris Coble
That secured the launch of the Academy in January of 2009. They approved an 18-month grant with promises of an extension.
Now, Chris Coble, writing for the Endowment, has expressed their satisfaction with the progress. After reading the first official report, submitted February 1, 2010, he wrote:
"The response to the Academy pilot project is very encouraging. The inaugural Festival of Young Preachers attracted a significant number of talented young people, as well as their mentors, and provided them with an opportunity to interact with others exploring a call to ministry."
Dr. Coble himself attended the festival, held in January of 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky, and met with the Academy Board of Advisors. His letter continues:
"The number of founding partners is noteworthy and indicates a broad base of support for the Academy."
Coble is right about this: there are 50 Founding Partners, listed elsewhere on this web site. We are now soliciting what we call National Partners, and are expecting letters of such partnership to arrive any day.
"Although much hard work remains," Coble continues, "I hope you are pleased what you have accomplished thus far. I look forward to following your progress as you prepare to move into the second phase of the pilot project."
The second phase of our pilot project is an 18-month extension, beginning July 1, 2010. We are expected any day now notice of a second grant from the Endowment to underwrite much of the cost of this work. During this second 18 months we will have two more festivals of young preachers and at least two more preaching camps.
In addition, we are extending our pilot project target area by 150 miles. This means we will reach out specifically to institutions, organizations, and congregations within a 300 mile radius of Louisville Kentucky. This, of course, does not limit our reach; in fact, any person or organization within the United States is welcome to join us in their remarkable initiative.
Stay tuned for more good news!!