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Young preachers competition steers students toward the pulpit
Posted 10/01/2012 09:09AM

Watch the news story on the Festival of Young Preachers, featuring Austin Seminary student Annanda Barclay, Allie Utley, and Alex Cornell.



Full story below:

by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Posted on September 28, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 28 at 10:19 PM

AUSTIN -- Annanda Barclay of Austin is one of nearly 30 preachers taking part in this weekend's Academy Of Preachers festival at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

"It is different at a church, because you have to watch out for certain feelings, stereotypes, or expectations and comfort levels," said Barclay. "Here in this forum you can preach from the heart."

The founder of Academy Of Preachers says most ministerial students want to do mission work or praise and worship, but few actually want to preach.

"They love Jesus," said Dwight Moody, Ph.d. "They are talented. They are smart. They want to make a difference, but they've lost the confidence that the pulpit is a place where you can make that difference."

Four years ago, Moody decided to help give aspiring preachers ages 14 to 28 a forum to practice before a live audience.

"I have always wanted to be a preacher all my life," said Dallas resident Joshua Munoz. "I've looked up to the pulpit and seen the preachers there and said, 'I want to be that person.'"

"It is so exciting to have this mix of people from all different denominations, backgrounds and ages coming together to preach the gospel," said North Carolina resident Allie Utley. "It's a really neat experience to be a part of."

After talking to a few of the participants, it was clear each was aware of their particular strengths.

"I think my strength is a little bit of surprise," said Barclay. "I am kind of tiny, so when I get up there and kind of project, it brings out something that people might not think is in there."

While it has the look and feel of a competition, organizers say it's really not.

"You can't avoid some of the competition, but people want to do their best even if we don't declare a winner," said Moody.

"To know that we're all doing it together to help glorify God's kingdom is what helps me to not be so competitive or competitive at all," said Moody. "I know we're all doing it for the right reason, so it's all good."

While there is no winner, each participant receives productive evaluation from four theological panelists from across the state. The festival continues Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon.

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