One week ago today we gathered in Louisville for the 2012 National Festival of Young Preachers. Suffice it to say that it may well have been the most amazing, inspiring, transformational event I have ever attended.
One hundred and twenty Young Preachers (give or take a few) came to preach and took as their theme or text the Sermon on the Mount (perhaps the most famous sermon ever preached).
On Monday night husband and wife team Matthew and Elizabeth Myer Boulton of Indianapolis led the worship, gathering elements from many traditions and preaching a sermon that set the Festival bar high.
On Tuesday evening, the Cathedral of the Assumption was our location, the Archbishop of Louisville was our host, the Louisville Master Chorale was our choir, and pastor Jeff Nicolas was our preacher. During that service, Nazarene C. J. Childs A0P ’10 swung the incense, Asbury student Keith Turner carried the cross, and Harvard graduate Catherine Cummins gave a witness to vocation. It is hard for me to over-state the emotional and spiritual power of this service.
On Wednesday evening, hundreds of Young Preachers and guests filled the Seelbach Grand Ballroom for our second PREACHAPALOOZA banquet. Guests were entertained with music by Everett McCorvey and the American Spiritual Ensemble and testimonies by Louisville Presbyterian Seminary president Michael Jinkins, Morehouse campus minister Ernest Brooks, University of Wisconsin professor Lori Carrell, and Cedarville University student T.J. Pancake. Lee Huckleberry unveiled the newly published collection of sermons from the 2011 National Festival under the title “Waking to the Holy.”
Thursday morning, we all gathered once again in the Cathedral to read together the Covenant of Gospel Preaching and hear a challenging, reverberating sermon by Dr. Safiyah Fasua of the General Board of discipleship of the United Methodist Church.
That’s not all that happened: meeting, greeting, preaching, coaching, teaching, planning, praising, praying, listening, eating, and yes, a little sleeping!
Cyberspace is full of post-festival commentary and I will publish some of this in my next web site column, so you still have time to write an email, make a phone call, post a picture, write a blog, or tweet a message. We are all basking in the afterglo of a grand and glorious affair. Thanks be to God.