Beginning this summer, the Academy of Preachers will expand the target area of its pilot project to a 300 miles radius around Louisville. For the first 18 months, the area of focus was half that: 150 miles from Louisville in all directions.

That original area included Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Nashville, Evansville, and Bloomington. Most of the Founding Partners came from this area, such as Christian Theological Seminary, Cincinnati Christian University, Georgetown College, Lindsey Wilson College, Fisk University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Central District Baptist Association.

Not that this imaginary line kept others from hearing about the Academy: Truett Seminary in Texas, Morehouse College in Georgia, Beeson Divinity School in Alabama, Harvard Divinity School in Boston, and Southwest Baptist University in Missouri are a few of those who signed on early. Fully one third of the young preachers who came to Louisville to preach at the Festival of Young Preachers attend school outside this original target area.

The expanded region (stretching the 300 miles just a bit!) reaches north to Milwaukee and south to Birmingham, west past St. Louis and east into Virginia. Within this enlarged area are such centers of Christian leadership as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Memphis. The Academy will seek to introduce ourselves to Christian schools in these areas: Bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, universities, and seminaries.

We are making a renewed effort to attract National Partners (see elsewhere on this web site) and assist institutions in scheduling campus festivals and designing preaching courses to include the festival. And of course, the big thing: encouraging young preachers to register for the second national festival of young preachers (January 6-8, 2011) in Louisville, Kentucky.

While the intent of the Academy is to create a national network of young preachers, we are being careful to expand within our means and according to a plan. Of course, these plans do not prevent us from talking to individuals, organizations, and institutions at the far corners of the country. In fact, within the past seven days, I have had conversations with people in Boston, Portland, Mobile, and New York. We welcome your calls.