CU students honored for most students at preacher festival

-A A +A

Natasha Janes

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University, a founding member of the National Festival of Young Preachers, was recognized at the recent conference for having the most students attending from any college or university affiliated with the organization.

CU also had the largest number attending last year, which was the inaugural year for the festival.

Dr. Scott Wigginton, associate professor of pastoral ministries and counseling at CU, said, "Both last year and this year, our students have not only benefited from the varied opportunities to hone their preaching skills, but they have mixed and mingled with a broad variety of persons.

"These men and women come from places as diverse as Vanderbilt, St. Meinrad Seminary, Yale, Criswell College, Morehouse College and the University of Chicago, just to name a few. Despite varying theological viewpoints, all feel called to preach."

The CU students who participated in the 2011 National Festival of Young Preachers were Jamie Bennett of Horse Cave, Ky., Trask Murphy of Summersville, Ky., Curtis Clemons of Williamstown, Ky., Andre Morton of Vine Grove, Ky., Andrew McGinnis of Waynesburg, Ky. and Jesse Reese of Old Bridge, N.J.

During the festival, 130 young people from across the nation delivered a sermon based on the Ten Commandments.

The Academy of Preachers is a trans-denominational organization whose mission is to Identify, Network, Inspire and Support young people who sense God's leading into a vocation of enormous social significance-gospel preaching, according to The Academy of Preachers website.

The Campbellsville students and professors who attended all had a good experience and would recommend it to other young preachers in the future, according to Jamie Bennett, who has a 2005 bachelor of science degree and a master's of theology degree from CU in 2009.

Bennett said, "I think it's a great experience for all believers. They get challenged, fed and have their eyes opened to the ways that God is moving in the generation to come."

Bennett also said one of the most interesting parts of the experience was being exposed to so many different traditions and backgrounds.

He said, "Theologically, I think everybody heard a sermon or two that made them wince. That was the beauty of the experience; everybody had to stand back and think, 'Okay, I don't agree with that, but why don't I agree with it? Is it because it isn't biblical, or is it because I've made a few false assumptions about who God is and what the message of Christ means?'"

Clemons said, "I was granted the opportunity not only to preach, but to hear classmates and fellow young preachers from across the nation and one from Canada preach as well.

"At Campbellsville University, we are able to interact with students from different backgrounds, however at the Festival of Young Preachers, the preachers were from many different traditions and denominations. I feel more appreciation for certain traditions in my denomination as well as those in other denominations that may not be part of my specific tradition."

Dr. Dwayne Howell, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at CU, attended the conference and said, "It's a wonderful opportunity for young preachers because they are evaluated and they get to preach for their peers."

Wigginton also said one of his favorite memories of this year's festival was watching CU's students show up for each other and support each other every time a Campbellsville person would preach.

He said there is a sense of family in the School of Theology and opportunities like this give them the chance to enjoy each other.

The Academy of Preachers website offers guidance, direction and professional accountability to Young Preachers through annual events such as the Young Preachers Leadership Team, the Festival of Young Preachers and Summer Preaching Camps. They also encourage Young Preachers to seek the guidance and wisdom of a mentor and to partner together with a supporting congregation in their denomination.

At the final assembly of the festival, all young preachers who participate are formally inducted into the Academy of Preachers, and thus eligible for both institutional scholarships and also for both the summer preaching camps, the Leadership Team and other programs of the Academy of Preachers.