The Academy of Preachers (AoP) was launched with the vision of its founder, Dr. Dwight A. Moody, supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis, Indiana. Since its launch in January 2009, the Academy of Preachers has worked to Identify, Network, Support, and Inspire the next generation of Young Preachers.
During its first 18 months, the work of the Academy was hosted by St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2010, the Academy occupied office space at Middletown Christian Church, on the east end of Louisville, Kentucky; and in January 2015, the Academy relocated administrative space to Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky
Through our network of Founding Partners and National Partners, and by offering opportunities such as the Young Preachers Leadership Team, the Summer Preaching Camps, the Gospel Catalyst Network, the campus and regional Festivals of Young Preachers, and the National Festival of Young Preachers, the Academy has influenced the lives of more than 1,000 young Christian preachers from across the country.
The Festival of Young Preachers
In the inaugural year, Morehouse College of Atlanta pioneered the Campus Festival, and Campbellsville University developed the festival-enriched preaching course. Now both of these strategies of encouraging Young Preachers are being used by other schools around the country to strengthen campus preaching programs and undergirded the National Festival of Young Preachers. During any given year campus, regional, and denominational festivals for young preachers are hosted around the country; the Academy has developed resources for hosting such events, and these are available to any institution or organization in what we call a “Festival in a Box.”
A list of locations for each of our National Festivals is listed below.
- 2010 – Louisville, KY (St. Matthews Baptist Church)
- 2011 – Louisville, KY (The Seelbach Hilton Louisville)
- 2012 – Louisville, KY (The Seelbach Hilton Louisville)
- 2013 – Atlanta, GA (Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead)
- 2014 – Indianapolis, IN (Sheraton City Centre)
- 2015 – Dallas, TX (Magnolia Hotel Dallas/Park Cities)
- 2016 – Lexington, KY (Hilton Lexington/Downtown)
- 2017 – Lexington, KY (Embassy Suites Lexington)
- 2018 – Atlanta, GA (Hilton Atlanta Airport)
- 2019 – Atlanta, GA (Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead)
Our Board & Team
In 2010, the Academy added Rev. Lee Huckleberry, the first AoP staff member, as Executive Director. He served through August 2012, managing the office, including finances and publications. In late summer of 2011, Rev. Wyndee Holbrook joined the team as Lead Gospel Catalyst, directing the AoP Gospel Catalyst Network for 5 years (The Gospel Catalyst Network features young preachers who serve as advocates, mentors, and representatives for the Academy of Preachers). Late in 2011, the Academy also brought Ms. Charissa Acree to the leadership team as Director of Marketing and Communications; she assumed management of the AoP office and oversight of the preaching festivals and served until summer 2012, at which time Mr. Allan Moody became Office Manager and Ms. Laura Godbey assumed responsibilities as Finance Director. In November of 2012, Rev. Holbrook was promoted to Director of Programs.
In 2013, the Academy of Preachers incorporated as a non-profit in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, empowered a Board of Directors (consisting of eight founding members: Christopher Gay, Ernest Brooks, David Emery, Martin Linebach, Robin Thomerson, Julie Roe, John Williams, and Dwight A. Moody), and successfully applied for tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2014, Allan Moody and Laura Godbey resigned, and Laura Griggs, CPA, was contracted to be Finance Manager.
In 2015, Rev. Holbrook was once again promoted, this time as Executive Director. In 2015, Ms. Maureen Howell was also employed as Office Manager, Mr. Tyler Best as Social Media Manager, and Ms. Susan Waggener as part-time Assistant to the President.
Rev. Wyndee Holbrook stepped down from her role as Executive Director in 2016. Mrs. Debbie Moody, who previously been contracted as Event Planner, and Rev. Winterbourne Harrison-Jones were subsequently hired as Director of Festivals and Director of Philanthropy respectively. In late 2016, Waggener and Harrison-Jones resigned their positions. Best was given a new title as Director of Communications in early 2017.
On July 1, 2017, Rev. Ernest Brooks III succeeded Dr. Dwight A. Moody, AoP Founder, as President and CEO. Debbie Moody transitioned to a new role as Director of Operations during this time period. In July 2017, Mr. Nick Bettis was hired as Office Assistant. In February 2018, Bettis became Communications Assistant and remained with the organization until December 2018.
Rev. Ernest Brooks III stepped down from his role as President/CEO in January 2019. In light of executive vacancy, the Academy of Preachers is currently operating under a Transitional Leadership Team, which consists of Mr. Tyler Best, Director of Events, Rev. Richard Williams, Director of Networks, Mrs. Debbie Moody, Director of Operations, and Dr. Dwight A. Moody, Director of Advancement. This interim structure is in place while the organization enters the process of wrapping up.
The Academy is proud of its presence on the world wide web, Facebook and Twitter, and especially YouTube (where AoP festival videos are being downloaded at the rate of 1,000 per week, or 370,000 in six years, with more than 1,000 subscribers). The AoP will continue to expand these initiatives to engage the generation of young adults, with a special focus on using social media especially video to promote our mission and programs, generate financial support, and advocate for opportunities for Young Preachers.
The Academy also published its first book in 2010, A Beautiful Thing: Sermons from the Inaugural Festival of Young Preachers! This unique volume contains the preaching of high school, university and seminary students and launched what is now a seven-book collection, which may be the only books in print that archive what the rising generation of preachers is thinking and saying. Other volumes include:
- Waking to the Holy: Semons from the 2012 Festival of Young Preachers,
- Uncommon Sense: Jesus and the Renewal of the World,
- Gospel and the City: Sermons from the 2013 Festival of Young Preachers;
- Questions of the Soul: Sermons from the 2014 National Festival of Young Preachers,
- Pentecost on Mockingbird Lane: Sermons from the 2015 National Festival of Young Preachers,
- Generation to Generation: A Commemorative Collection of Millennial African American Sermons Preached at the 2010-2015 National Festivals of Young Preachers
- Heaven and Earth: Sermons from the 2016 National Festival of Young Preachers,
- Rabbi. Radical. Redeemer. Risen Lord.: Sermons from the 2017 National Festival of Young Preachers, and
- Worship the Lord: Sermons from the 2018 National Festival of Young Preachers
These books are published by Chalice Press in the the AoP Marketplace. They are also available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble (and other online bookstores), and directly from the publisher.