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.