It all started seven years ago, June 23, 2008.

I was unemployed, 58 years old, and a Baptist preacher. Those are not the cards you want to hold in your hand.

“How are things at Georgetown College,” he asked; and I responded, “I am not there any more.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I am like a man going fishing. I have five fishing poles to put in the water and see what happens.”

And when he said, “Tell me about these fishing poles” I began with pastoring a church, then mentioned a business as a coach for ministers. But when I came to the third idea for work, an academy for young preachers, he got interested. And after 40 minutes of spontaneous question-and-answer, he said, “What can we do to make this happen?”

He was the number one philanthropist of religion in the country, and I said, “I don’t know.”

I was caught off guard, but he knew what to say: “We will give you the money and let you do this.”

I am still amazed at the details of that conversation at the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis. And now, seven years later, he is retired, I am thinking about retirement, and the Academy of Preachers is flourishing like never before.

Which is why June 23 is AoP Day. Which is why we celebrate on this day.  Which is why we ask all friends of AoP to do something special on this day.

Register for an AoP festival.

Call a friend and tell them about AoP.

Make a donation, on line or in the mail, to AoP.

Write your AoP story of inspiration, impact, and influence; and send it to us.

Post some Festival picture or sermon video on your FB page. Or use the green AoP Day banner.

Buy something: a book or two, a hat or shirt, a sponsorship at one of our four regional festivals this year or the 2016 National Festival of Young Preachers in January of 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Or think of something else, something wonderful, inspirational, helpful. Something gospelesque. (I just made up that word, but I like it.) Something full of gospelosity. (I made up that word also, and it also is very versatile.)

Mark June 23 on your calendar and celebrate with us!!!

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