Trinity Provides Platform and Praise for Young Preachers

Two events this past year inspired several young preachers and connected them to Trinity Lutheran Seminary.  During the 2012 Summer Seminary Sampler, the teenage Samplarians participated in the program’s first-ever Gospel Slam, held in an ultra-chic, near-downtown coffee house featuring local artwork and fairly traded coffee and tea.  The youth poured into the Upper Cup Coffee Co.  on Parsons Avenue in the Olde Town East neighborhood of Columbus, to sip on green tea and lattes while listening to their peers share faith-inspired prose and song.

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Trinity alumnus Doug Warburton ('99) of Peace, Gahanna, offered the opening message at the preaching festival.
In preparation for the Gospel Slam, Dr.  Hank Langknecht, professor of homiletics and Christian communications, instructed the Samplarians in the art of public speaking, with a focus on prayer and scripture reading.  Following the session with Professor Langknecht, the Samplarians crafted readings, songs, prayers, and poetry in Hamma Library and practiced reading aloud with their Sampler counselors.  The following evening, the Samplarians stood before the microphone in the front of the coffeehouse, supported and encouraged by friends, students, faculty, staff, and other local youth groups.

The Gospel Slam was repeated during the second session of Sampler and likely will remain a part of the annual summer program.  It is just one program inspired by the Academy of Preachers, a Lilly Endowment funded, non-profit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for young people ages 14-30 to preach the gospel of Christ in various venues across the country.   Members of the Admissions staff, Laura Book and Teddy Caesar, became acquainted with the Academy of Preachers and its founder, the Rev.  Dwight Moody, through Lilly, which also provides financial support for Sampler.  Pastor Moody, of Louisville, Kentucky, came to Trinity’s campus last year to explore opportunities for a preaching event in Columbus.  This meeting prompted the Gospel Slam and a second event— the first regional preaching festival, held on campus on November 9, 2012.

During the fall preaching festival, seven preachers between the ages of 17 and 28 preached on texts chosen by the Academy of Preachers for its national festival titled Gospel in the City.  The Admissions office opened up registration for the event to non-seminary candidates with the hope that some might one day study in a degree program here.  In addition to the seven young preachers, many young people from across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio came to Trinity to witness the event.   

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Samplarian Laura Barr takes the stage during the Gospel Slam last June.
“Our partnership with the Academy of Preachers shows an investment in the next generation of preachers and future leaders, because the academy is helping them grow into their calls and improve their communication skills,” said Teddy Ceasar, recruiter for vocation.   Faculty, staff, and students, along with local preachers and pastors of various denominations, were invited to listen to the sermons and join participants at lunch to discuss topics such as call, seminary, theology, and more.  The day opened with a message from Trinity alumnus Doug Warburton (’99), a pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna.  Throughout the day, more than 50 people witnessed the festival and learned more about Trinity and the Academy of Preachers’ mission and ministry.  At the end of the festival, Stephanie Engle, a 2009 Samplarian who now studies at Capital University, won a free registration to the 2013 Academy of Preachers National Festival in Atlanta.

The national festival provides an amazing opportunity for young preachers from across the country to gather and sharpen their preaching.  They also have the opportunity to attend seminars and panel discussions.  Since its launch in 2009, the Academy of Preachers has worked with more than 300 young people from across the nation.  Trinity is just one of the Academy’s many partners.  Other participating schools and organizations include Candler School of Theology, Texas Methodist Foundation Institute for Clergy & Congregational Excellence, Woman Preach! Inc., Baptist Women in Ministry, Union Theological Seminary, and Crozer Divinity School.   

“Our involvement with the Academy really connects Trinity with other ecumenical divinity schools and seminaries across the country.  When we go to events, we are placed side by side with these other schools and it increases the awareness of Trinity across the country,” said Laura Book, assistant director for vocational
discernment and Summer Seminary Sampler.

“We were the first to do the Gospel Slam and now we are the model for the Academy of Preachers across the country,” she added.