This morning, Sunday, April 25, 2010, I attended worship at Middletown Christian Church. Did I ever–at 9am for the traditional service, skipping out early to attend the 9:45 contemporary service, and skipping out early again to attend the 11am blended service. I have been to church today!!

But during all three services I was part of a short ceremony. Pastor David Emery introduced me; I gave an introduction to the Academy of Preachers; he presented me with a gift from the church ($2,000); I presented him with a check for $1,500–this was the T. L. McSwain Scholarship Prizes awarded to the two young preachers from Middletown Christian Church because they had the largest fan club when they preached at the Festival of Young Preachers last January.

Then I made this announcement: the Academy of Preachers and Middletown Christian Church have entered into a partnership. The Church will be the official host and sponsor of the Academy; the Academy will set up an office on the campus of the Church; the Church will legally request, receive, and manage the money of the Academy, including the grant from the Lilly Endowment.

All these things that happened this morning also happened Saturday night at the 5:30 service; only the Academy representative was Academy Senior Consultant Lee Huckleberry (also pastor of Howard Park Christian Church in Clarksville, Indiana).

This is a partnership full of promise. Pastor David Emery was one of the first Louisville-area pastors to endorse the Academy and to join the Board of Advisors. Many church members volunteered at the festival in January; two of their young people preached at the festival. The church has selected an outstanding committee of lay people to service as our liaisons with the congregation and to assist us in fulfilling the mission of the Academy.

In the next few months the Church and the Academy will host a reception, furnish and decorate an office, education the congregation, hold fund-raiser, and recruit volunteers.

I was grateful to be in the worship services today as was Lee Huckleberry last night. We are very encouraged by the enthusiasm we have encountered and by the potential for a fruitful partnership. We eagerly await what God is about to do among us, between us, and through us, to the Glory of God and the good of both the Christian community and the wider human community.

Oh, and did I mention: the children’s choir sang at all three services, and associate pastor Jeff Howell preached a fine sermon on the filling of the Holy Spirit. And they announced that on Derby Day, Saturday, May 1, the worship time is 7pm rather than the normal 5:30. It is hard to compete with the Kentucky Derby.