July 23, 2014
By David Telfort, AoP'12
My call to preach was confirmed in my sophomore year of college. I was in an internship at a financial firm and although I enjoyed my work I felt unfulfilled. I read a book that shifted my theological framework, “Cold Anger: A Story of Faith and Power Politics”. The book confirmed for me that God cares about our lives on earth as much as the desire that we make it to heaven. The book freed me to preach a gospel of justice, love and reconciliation. In the summer of 2011, through the Forum for Theological Exploration I was introduced to the Academy of Preachers (AoP). In AoP I found an organization that helps to refine and polish the gifts of communication God has given me.
Often meaningful messages do not reach their impact-potential because of the way they are communicated. During AoP’s preaching camp and my subsequent involvement in their festivals I learned effective ways of exchanging ideas. I learned that preaching is much more than exegesis of a passage. Preaching is body posturing, hand movement and identifying with one’s audience. AoP has pushed me to expand my idea of what preaching is and what it can be, beyond the bounds of my tradition.
When I think of my call to preach I think of my biblical namesake David. In 1st Samuel when he overhears Goliath taunting the Israelites and disrespecting God, David feels compelled to say something. We don’t know for sure but David did not seem to have dreams of being a famous warrior and an eventual King. Instead he is faithful in his duties as a shepherd and is moved in a new direction when God sees fit. In the same way, I never considered preaching to be a calling of mine. It was something I was drawn to. I reflected on my childhood in a working class community and felt that my observations of how the world works were not addressed in the church. Economic disparity, education inequality and racism were things I experienced but I never heard anyone propose what God might have to say about these issues. I heard a voice within me say, “Why don’t you?”
There are many people who are able to name what is wrong with the world but not enough who have the vision and boldness to propose solutions for change. AoP gives young people a platform to do just that. A platform to celebrate the Church and the things that it does well, but also push an institution we love and believe in. Each festival I attend gives me an opportunity to hear how well the Church is doing, but also vision for what the Church can be. This emboldens me as I continue my journey. I may not be sure of where I will end up, but wherever I go I have colleagues in the faith who strive to preach a challenging, redeeming and inclusive word pointing to Christ.
July 14, 2014
By Dwight Moody
Last week, in a meeting at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill (Kentucky) seven (of the eight) members of the Board of Directors met to assume legal and fiduciary responsibility for the Academy of Preachers. It was a grand and historic occasion; who knows where all of this will lead.
Shaker Village was a suitable place: old, sturdy, self sufficient community on a weekend of spectacular weather, bluegrass and choral music, and more food than we could possibly enjoy. Even the moon was phenomenal. Shaker Village itself, now reborn as a tourist and meeting destination, was home to a community of believers, one that lasted 150 years. May our Academy of Preachers be so blessed.
There were seven of us Directors, joined by our governance consultant Cyrus White, our finance manager Laura Godbey, and our event manager Allan Moody. We were a warm and friendly group, in some ways just getting adjusted to one another and to the important role we were assuming.
During the previous three months, we had opened our own AoP bank accounts, contracted with a human resources and payroll firm, and authorized particular directors to act on behalf of all. These are things ordinary to the process of launching a non-profit corporation.
Our “launch” came more than five years after we began work: hosting festivals, leading camps, recruiting partners, publishing books, and posting videos. During that time we had been under the watchcare of two churches: St. Matthews Baptist Church and Middletown Christian Church, both in Louisville. Their support and guidance was invaluable and, in large measure, the cause of our successful launch last week.
Middletown Christian Church, through its pastor who is also an AoP Director, presented AoP with a check for $154,000. This was AoP money, raised from donors, sponsors, and young preachers attending AoP festivals, but kept in the Middletown Church accounts: until last week, when it was transferred to us, the Academy of Preachers, and deposited in our own accounts.
It is a good feeling, and also a giant step forward….not for the whole human race (like the moon landing) but at least for the hundreds of Young Preachers who have already drawn inspiration from our festivals and also the thousands of people, Christian and non, who are being blessed through the preaching ministry of these up-and-coming speakers of the gospel.
Thank you for your prayers, your advocacy, your attendance, your encouragement, your donations, your time: all that you send our way to help us “to identify, network, support, and inspire young people in their call to gospel preaching.”
This year, join us in this unique and vital strategy to under gird our mission: QR92…our effort to secure 92 people to donate monthly to the Academy of Preachers through a bank transfer. As little as $5 or as much as $500: being one of these 92 who are ensuring the sustainability of our mission.
Visit the Support Page on this web site, click any of our Donate Now buttons, or use the QR code here to join our growing network of friends and donors. If you wonder what Young Preachers think about what we are doing, read our Five Year Assessment Report called “God Whispered to Me” found else where on this web site.
July 7, 2014
By Dwight Moody
So wrote one Young Preacher in assessing his experience at the National Festival of Young Preachers.
I don’t know his or her name, any more than I know the name of any of the other 194 Young Preachers who participated in our Five Year AoP Assessment Project.
This project consisted of a ten-minute on-line questionnaire designed by our Director of Assessments and Research, Dr. Lori Carrell. Dr. Carrell is a Distinguished Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
In the questionnaire Young Preachers were asked about their experience at one of our five National Festivals. They responded that the Festival:
*inspired and motivated me;
*increased my contact with people from church traditions different from my own;
* increased my confidence in preaching; and
*increased by interest in preaching.
You can read the entire 20-page report here; and if you want a printed copy (or even multiple printed copies), email me at Dwight@academyofpreachers.net
This research is invaluable to our mission and programs. It should inspire every donor. It should encourage many other Young Preachers to register for our festivals (Boston, Nashville, and Dallas over the next 6 months). It should sustain the Directors, Contractors, Gospel Catalysts, and even our two-person staff (Wyndee Holbrook and me), all of whom dedicate above and beyond the call of duty to the success of the Academy of Preachers.
The title, God Whispered to Me, comes from the testimony of another Young Preacher: “Through being at the festival, listening to other great preachers, and receiving great insight, many confirmations took place in those three days and in my spirit. It sat well. It was as if God whispered to me and said, ‘This is what I made you for’.”
July 3, 2014
By Wyndee Holbrook
Within the past week AoP held two Festivals and the sermons of 26 Young Preachers were heard in Atlanta, GA and Green Lake, WI. Both Festivals were hosted by Baptists, but of differing stripes. All followed the theme, “Tell Me a Story” sharing from their lives and biblical texts.
Sixteen of the Young Preachers gathered during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Atlanta. Their presence packed out the room and gave everyone reason to get there first next year! This was true of the Young Preachers as well, since the 16 spots filled up a month in advance with four on the waiting list.
AoP Partners were well represented with preachers from Duke, McAfee, Truett, Candler, Central and Campbell and three of our sermon evaluator/coaches from McAfee, Baptist Women in Ministry and Passport Camps.
Of particular note were three high school girls who preached at the Festival. These three were the real pew packers. Moms, dads, grandmas and Sunday School teachers traveled over 2 hours to hear teenagers preach ten minute sermons. The youngest was 15 year old Emily Owen (pictured). She shared with us her very first sermon about the good Samaritans in her life. So for those who assume Baptist women don’t preach, let it be known they surely did in Atlanta!
The videos from Atlanta will be posted in the weeks to come, but you can share in Wes Spears’, AoP’12, creative storytelling by reading his sermon entitled “Good Soil” on his blog. http://eireinei.com/2014/07/01/good-soil/ His work, as always, is challenging and smart.
The Green Lake Conference Center hosted 10 Young Preachers within the American Baptist tradition. Five men and five women ages 18 – 30 shared their hearts and minds in that beautiful setting. Folks came from as far as Indianapolis to support their daughter as she preached. Obviously there is eager support for those who are willing to take to the pulpit and proclaim their faith. The Academy of Preachers is honored to help launch Young Preachers on the path of proclamation.
July 1, 2014
By Dwight Moody
Number 77 is The Speaker’s Studio, a new business venture launched this year by Kate Bringardner.
Kate is no stranger to the Academy of Preachers, having attended four of the five National Festivals of Young Preachers and served as a sermon evaluator and workshop leader. In Dallas, she and I will lead a Master Class at the 2015 National Festival.
She writes in her letter of Partnership: “While our mediums may differ, the Academy of Preachers through gospel preaching and The Speaker’s Studio through theatre and improv, we work toward a common goal: inspiring people to lift their voices in ways that are encouraging, empowering, and focused on the common good.”
RicketyBridge is a new, creative non-profit launched by Tom Nealley who lives in the greater Washington DC region. His initiative uses state-of-the-art/science technology to map the social impact of organizations and movements.
In his letter of Partnership he writes: “RicketyBridge agrees to partner with the Academy of Preachers in our 21st century mission to identify, network, support, and inspire young people in their call to gospel preaching.”
He then lists three specific things: help to plan and host a festival of young preachers in the DC area; contribute to the Mauney and Moody scholarship funds at the AoP; and develop creative ways to measure impact and generate revenue for AoP stakeholders.
We welcome these innovative businesses to our network of 128 Founding and National Partners. We invite you to lead your business, congregation, denomination, institution, or organization to partner with us in our grand mission. Write me a letter of Partnership today!