Young Preachers Spurred on by Peers at Academy

Local attendees

North Texas Conference representatives at The Academy of Young Preachers (from left): Kelly Carpenter (Associate Director of Leadership Development), Brenna Rhodes, Keri Lynn Lucas, Alyce McKenzie, Marcus Jones (Wichita Falls Wesley Director) and Caleb Palmer (Perkins recruiter). McKenzie, a professor at SMU, was awarded Professor of the Decade.

National Gathering Offers Community, Networking, Fellowship

The Academy of Preachers National Festival of Young Preachers, which recently took place in Atlanta, is an excellent setting for young people (14-35) at any point of their journey from discerning their call to honing and stretching their preaching skills. It is an inspiring ecumenical gathering with representation from Catholic priests to Pentecostals and more than a couple “Methobapticostals.” The Festival offers opportunity for master classes in preaching and ministry, direct evaluation and feedback from preaching professors, amazing keynote preachers, peer preaching groups, networking and fellowship.

Read the following testimonials from two North Texas Conference students who attended the Festival.

Kerri Lynn LucasKeri Lynn Lucas,

Perkins School of Theology student and intern at Lovers Lane UMC

Attending the National Festival for Young Preachers is an experience like no other. I am surrounded by over 100 other young adults who are called to share God’s word and have come here to Atlanta to engage in this community to sharpen their skills as preachers. Within this year’s group of preachers, there are many denominations and traditions represented, and I am honored to represent The United Methodist Church and the North Texas Conference while I am here.

Each young preacher prepares a 15-minute sermon with the given theme “The Gospel and the World.” The festival is not a preaching competition but, instead, it is more like a supportive family. Every room where someone is preaching feels more like the sideline of an intense football game; everyone is cheering on everyone else.

Through listening to a dynamic set of preachers, engaging with my assigned small group and attending master classes from experts, I am learning to find my unique voice as a preacher in order to communicate God’s word better. Not only is the conference providing me a whole new look at preaching, but it is also giving me spiritual rest. Over the course of the conference, I am going to hear at least 10 sermons in three days. Each preacher has so thoughtfully prepared his or her sermon; there is no option but to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Though I am tired from the long few days of conferencing, my soul is finding spiritual rest in hearing these beautiful messages from anointed preachers. God is working through this ecumenical event, not only to make us better preachers but to also remember our love for God.

Breanna RhodesBrenna Rhodes,

Midwestern State student and intern at Wichita Falls Wesley

When I started work at the Wesley Foundation, I had no idea I would be attending the 2019 Academy of Young Preachers festival. I was told by my boss and mentor that it was something he really wanted me to do, so I went for it!

I hadn’t really given it much thought, but as January approached I realized what exactly I was going to be doing and I was terrified. I had never preached a sermon before, and this was something completely new for me. When I got to Atlanta, we were put into our preaching circles and began to talk about who we were and what we were there for. In my circle, I was not only the youngest, but I was also the only person not in seminary at all. At first, I felt out of place, like maybe this wasn’t the place for me, but as I began to talk about my faith and how I got to be where I am, I realized how happy I was to be there. I met the most amazing people and made friends that I know I will continue to keep in contact with.

While I was there, I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I did need to check out a couple seminaries, just to make sure that wasn’t what I wanted. I ended up talking to the guy at the Iliff table and, of course, everything fell into place. Because of the Academy, I’ll be touring Iliff and the University of Denver in April with the hope of attending after my undergraduate degree.

While I know I don’t feel called to the pulpit, AOP helped me discern where I am called and I highly recommend any young person unsure of their call to ministry to go and experience it. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go and I am excited to see where AOP will go in the future.

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2019