2-4 January 2014 • Off-Campus • National Festival of Young Preachers
When Seminarian Fr. Gabreil Alemayehu of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church met St. Vladimir's Seminary's Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric, The Rev. Dr. Sergius Halvorsen, two years ago at the Festival of Young Preachers , it changed the course of the student's life.
"He was finishing up his studies at Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts," remembers Fr.  Sergius. "We talked at the festival, and I suggested that he apply to St. Vladimir's for advanced study. This year, Fr. Gabreil returned to the festival as our school's participant." (Read Fr. Gabreil's reflections  and view his homily on YouTube .)
St.Vladimir's Seminary, a National Partner of the Academy of Preachers  that sponsors the Festival of Young Preachers, annually presents a strong showing at the festival, and this year was no exception. Besides Fr. Gabreil, two seminary alumni participated in the event, held in Indianapolis, Indiana: The Rev. Lucas Rice (SVOTS '11), rector of St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City, Iowa, and an Academy of Preachers alum, delivered a sermon to the entire Festival  during one of the plenary sessions; while the Youth Director for the Orthodox Church in America, Andrew Boyd (SVOTS '12),  presented a sermon, "Do You Want to be Healed?" 
Father Sergius, using an icon of the Nativity, led a workshop on sacramental preaching and the use of imagery in preaching. "One of the most effective ways to preach is to use words to craft images in the mind of the hearer," he noted. "It was a great opportunity to offer some of these young preachers exposure to an Orthodox Christian approach to homiletics."
More than 100 homilists from various Christian traditions, from high schoolers to seminarians to those already active in pastoral ministry, offered presentations to a panel of trained speakers. In his role as an evaluator, Fr. Sergius listened with a "homiletics prof's ear" and offered constructive feedback at the end of each presentation.