Several years ago, my long-time friend Dwight Moody left his post as Dean of the Chapel at Georgetown College in Kentucky to follow his dream of creating a ministry to encourage and support young men and women in the art and practice of preaching. In time, he established the Academy of Preachers for 14 to 28-year-olds interested in preaching.

Moody and his staff have traveled across the United States to meet with church leaders, college pastors, seminary professors and students, denominational officials and others to promote the Academy.

A key ingredient in the formation of the Academy came with the securing of a major grant from the Lilly Endowment based in Indianapolis.

In 2010, the Academy held its first Festival of Young Preachers in Louisville, Ky., and hosted festivals there in 2011 and 2012 with approximately 125 young preachers at each of the events. Participants, their mentors and others gathered from across the nation, from numerous denominations including evangelical, mainline, independent, Roman Catholic and Orthodox bodies and from a variety of ethnic groups.

The Academy of Preachers also has sponsored regional preaching festivals in several locations including the University of Evansville in 2011, with another scheduled there Nov. 3-4, 2012.

The festivals are not competitions but aim to be “a celebration, an inspiration, an occasion of mutual edification and encouragement” for those participating. At a festival, each preacher preaches one sermon and receives feedback from evaluators and others. The young preachers also gather for times of worship, sharing meals together, meeting new friends and forming networks with others.

The 2013 Festival of Young Preachers will convene in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 2-5, at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead Hotel. Registration and further information are available at the Academy’s website at

Those interested also may contact the Rev. Tammy Giesleman (, university chaplain and director of Religious Life at the United Methodist-related University of Evansville. To register for the Midwestern Festival of Preachers, Nov. 3-4, contact the Rev. Brian Durand (, associate director of Leadership Development in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, or retired pastor Mike Reed (, board member of the Academy of Preachers.

The 2014 Festival of Young Preachers will be held in January at Indianapolis with dates and site to be determined.

The Rev. Mike Reed serves as a retired elder of the Indiana Conference and board member of the Academy of Preachers.

The Festivals … aim to be ‘a celebration, an inspiration, an occasion of mutual edification and encouragement.’