Academy of Preachers

News & Updates

2019 NFYP Plenary Preachers

We are pleased to announce the following Plenary Preachers for the 2019 National Festival of Young Preachers:

Amy Butler

Amy Butler is the Senior Minister of The Riverside Church in New York City. Prior to this call, Pastor Amy served as Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Butler holds degrees from Baylor University, The International Baptist Theological Seminary and Wesley Theological Seminary. Before Calvary, she worked with the homeless community in New Orleans and served as Associate Pastor at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. In her free time, she loves to travel, read, garden, and write. A native of Hawaii, Butler currently resides in Manhattan with her three children.

David Graves

David Graves is the Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is originally from the Holston Conference and began his tenure as bishop in 2016. Prior to his consecration as an episcopal leader, Graves served in the Church as ordained clergy for over twenty years as a senior pastor and six years as district superintendent. He is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Candler School of Theology. He has shared thirty-six years of marriage with his wife, Nancy, and they have two children.

Tina Heise

Tina received a Congregational Fellowship in 2011 from the Forum for Theological Education and attended her first of several Academy of Preachers events in 2010. Through these experiences, several of her sermons have been published in compilation books including Uncommon Sense: Jesus and the Renewal of the World (Chalice Press, 2012), Gospel in the City (Chalice Press, 2013), and The Nine Marks of a Good Sermon (Parsons Porch, 2015). She has been featured in several interviews with Rev. Peter Wallace on Day 1. She is an avid Zumba enthusiast, voracious reader, and test runs all of her sermons on her tabby cat Cozmo before stepping into the pulpit.

Tara Beth Leach

Tara Beth Leach is senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena (“PazNaz”) in Southern California. She is a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University and Northern Theological Seminary. Leach is a regular writer for Missio Alliance and has contributed to other publications such as Christianity Today, Christian Week, and Jesus Creed. She is the author of Kingdom Culture and a contributor to The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life.

John Russell

John Russell, Jr., is the Senior Pastor of Saint John and The Grace Place/El Lugar de Gracia United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama. He is a graduate of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and The University of South Alabama. Beginning his spiritual journey in the Church of God and Christ, Russell later became a member of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. Still a member of the United Methodist Church, Russell is currently the youngest and only African-American pastor in the Alabama-West Florida Conference serving in a cross-cultural appointment. He has shown himself to be an advocate for social equality in the areas of immigration and educational reform within the states of Alabama.

David Telfort

David Telfort serves as Pastor of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York. A Brooklyn native and the son of Haitian immigrants, Telfort’s faith journey began early in life. He grew up in a Wesleyan church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and Occidental College. Prior to beginning at LAPC in 2017, he was the Associate Minister at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Des Moines, Iowa. Outside of church, he can be found in the gym, boxing, practicing yoga and enjoying life with family and friends. His passion for life is fed by an insatiable appetite for literature, film and music.

Max Wilkins

Max Wilkins served churches as a pastor in Florida and Hawaii for twenty-six years prior to becoming president and CEO of TMS Global. He has led small and large local churches, planted satellite campuses, and helped to launch more than 100 church plants during that time. Wilkins has been personally engaged in cross-cultural mission work for more than 20 years, having served and taught in more than three dozen countries around the world. He is a graduate of Candler School of Theology, Asbury Theological Seminary, and the University of South Florida. Wilkins is married to Dee Dee and they have two children.