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Chaplains of the Common Good

October 15, 2014

By

.Frank Thomas CTS Our guest columnist today is noted preacher and author Frank Thomas, professor of preaching at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dr. Thomas was a plenary preacher at the 2014 National Festival of Young Preachers.

In his book, Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land, the Reverend Doctor Joseph E. Lowery published a sermon entitled, “Chaplains for the Common Good,” from which I take the title of this article. In 1998, after his retirement from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Lowery joined with other activists and formed the Coalition for the People’s Agenda (CPA) – a coalition of advocacy groups on civil rights, peace, labor, women’s issues, justice, youth, human rights, etc.

At the end of each CPA meeting, they quoted together this line: “We are chaplains of the common good.” While many see the role of chaplain as reading scriptures and praying prayers at community, social, and even church events before eating or discussing business, they saw the chaplain role much deeper than that. A chaplain is the conscience of an organization, nation, or church, Lowery explained, urging all to do what is right and what is pleasing to God.

According to Lowery, chaplains nudge everyone toward the common good. Through Scriptures, prayers, and sometimes a clap of thunder, they jar us to righteous reality. Sometimes it is a flash of lightning making plain the landscape of societal ills; sometimes it is a whisper into our still conscience; sometimes it is an alarm clock saying it is time to rise; sometimes it’s a bugle call to engagement; sometimes it is a cool breeze of thankfulness following the glory of triumph or the agony of defeat; but it is always on the side of the Creator, always calling out the best in us for the common good.

In his book, Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land, the Reverend Doctor Joseph E. Lowery published a sermon entitled, “Chaplains for the Common Good,” from which I take the title of this article. In 1998, after his retirement from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Lowery joined with other activists and formed the Coalition for the People’s Agenda (CPA) – a coalition of advocacy groups on civil rights, peace, labor, women’s issues, justice, youth, human rights, etc.

At the end of each CPA meeting, they quoted together this line: “We are chaplains of the common good.” While many see the role of chaplain as reading scriptures and praying prayers at community, social, and even church events before eating or discussing business, they saw the chaplain role much deeper than that. A chaplain is the conscience of an organization, nation, or church, Lowery explained, urging all to do what is right and what is pleasing to God.

According to Lowery, chaplains nudge everyone toward the common good. Through Scriptures, prayers, and sometimes a clap of thunder, they jar us to righteous reality. Sometimes it is a flash of lightning making plain the landscape of societal ills; sometimes it is a whisper into our still conscience; sometimes it is an alarm clock saying it is time to rise; sometimes it’s a bugle call to engagement; sometimes it is a cool breeze of thankfulness following the glory of triumph or the agony of defeat; but it is always on the side of the Creator, always calling out the best in us for the common good.

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YouTube: 302,296…and counting!!

October 10, 2014

By Dwight Moody

Less than five years ago we created our YouTube Channel. We posted videos from the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers, held in Louisville in January of 2010. Fifty thousand times that year people viewed a sermon of one of our AoP ’10 Young Preachers.

Since then we have uploaded the sermon videos from each of the National Festivals and from many of the Regional Festivals. Plus we have uploaded interviews, promotional videos, and one five-minute introduction to the whole festival experience. There are more than 700 AoP videos now on the AoP YouTube channel.

Check out these videos: www.youtube.com/academyofpreachers

Since our launch 58 months ago, 302,296 times somebody has clicked on our channel and watched a Young Preacher deliver a sermon. That is 5,212 times a month for 58 months!

WOW!!

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AoP and Assemblies of God: Moving Forward

October 6, 2014

By Dwight Moody

MOody head shot, 2014Today we received a letter of partnership from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.

Seminary President Byron Klaus wrote: “Thank you for your mission to motivate young men and women to preach the gospel. We want to partner with you in this worthy cause.”

And we want to partner with the Assemblies of God, one of the largest, most dynamic Christian movements in the world. In our conversation last week on their campus in Springfield Dr. Klaus and I talked about the need for a festival of young preachers in Springfield. In his letter, he wrote: “We would be delighted to participate in a regional festival which could be held in the William J Seymour Chapel here at AGTS.”

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October 1, 2014

By Dwight Moody

MOody head shot, 2014Oral Roberts University. Aquinas Institute. Southwest Baptist University. Evangel University.

These are the four schools that have opened their hearts and homes to me over the last week; and in between these schools, amazing churches and communities: Rock Church (Roman Catholic) and Crossings (Evangelical) in St. Louis, and especially the Dominican Priory, also in St. Louis.

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AoP, A Gathering of Artists

September 18, 2014

By Joshua Barrett, AoP'13

Josh BarrettI recently read a wonderful article about Ruth Oosterman.  Ruth is an artist – a very good one! – who collaborates with her two year old daughter, Eve, in the creation of her paintings.  How so, you say?  Ruth gives Eve the freedom to draw whatever she would like, and then using the lines and coloring of what Eve drew, adds color and additional lines to produce fascinating paintings (in addition to whatever the original idea was).  The results are stunning! (Read to the end and see for yourself.)

I’d like to think AoP does something similar.  No, you’re not a two year old, and nor is anyone else at the Festival. (I believe that falls a bit short of the age requirements.)  However, when it comes to preaching, each of us sketches a certain way.  We put lines here and color there, illustrations here and exegesis there. Hopefully we develop as we go, I pity the preacher who has everything figured out. But if left largely on our own, our sketches, our sermons, will sound very similar.

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ENDORSEMENTS

Brittney Stephan 138x150 Didnt work for Moses or meThe phrase “God is on the move!” takes me back to church camp during the summer of 2007 when I felt called to ministry at the age of 14. I wish I could explain exactly what that feeling was like for me, but putting words on a page would not do it justice. I heard the phrase “God is on the move!” numerous times that week, but did not fully understand what it meant at the time nor could I have predicted how my life would be forever changed as a result.

To make a long story shorter, I was confused about my call, but “knew” one thing for sure: I was certainly NOT going to preach due to my debilitating fear of public speaking. Let’s just say a similar excuse didn’t work out so well for Moses and this excuse certainly didn’t work for me!

Before I knew it, I was standing in front of my congregation doing exactly what I was never going to do…preach, but with God’s help and the support of my incredible church family, I am now an aspiring preacher and seven years later, I have not looked back.

As it turns out, it was my first sermon that caused me to stop running from my call to preach. I had a reassuring “aha” moment in the middle of my sermon that day and have witnessed many of my peers experience similar moments of their own when preaching at the National and Regional Festivals of Young Preachers.

I have found the Academy of Preachers to be an excellent place to learn and grow as well as a place that provides each of us with an incredible network of young people who are also called to share the Good News! It has impacted my life in a very meaningful way and if given the chance, I’m sure that it will positively impact you and others that you know as well.

Getting involved has never been easier and there are opportunities for every state, group, and denomination.  For instance, I first became involved through the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church when I was asked to preach at a Festival and dinner that was held last June at Annual Conference.

The Festival took place in the morning and was the product of what is known as the “Festival in a Box”. It includes everything needed to start a Festival of your own.  In addition to the Festival, an event was held that evening that we call the “Eat, Preach, and Praise Dinner”. The dinner was created to support and celebrate young adults in the conference and their call to ministry. It includes sharing a meal together, songs of praise, scripture, and homilies set around the festival’s theme delivered by other young preachers (both laity and clergy) in the conference.

As a young preacher who has benefitted greatly from the Academy of Preachers and all it has to offer, I encourage you to host a Festival within your state, a group you belong to, or your denomination. Your festival can replicate what other regions have already done or you can put a creative spin on things.

The choice is yours, but the time is now! Just think of how many young people might be waiting for an event such as this to inspire them and help them discover their voice and the confidence they need in their call to Gospel preaching!  Truly, “God is on the move!”

— Didn’t work for Moses or me