VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/20/17)—The Yale Center for Faith and Culture (YCFC) invites American Baptist Clergy from across the nation to participate in 50 States of Joy – A Preaching Series. The project encourages pastors to preach about joy, that state of right relationship that comes from knowing and serving God. 50 States of Joy officially launches on April 23, 2017; however, pastors may join the movement by preaching about joy anytime during 2017-2018. Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, Director of Lifelong Learning at Yale Divinity School and former Executive Director of the Ministers Council, ABCUSA, shared the campaign with Dr. Susan Gillies, Interim General Secretary, ABCUSA, during a recent visit to the American Baptist Churches Mission Center.
“As the church, we have an important opportunity to reacquaint the world with the joy that is found in Jesus Christ,” says Dr. Jackson. “It’s that sense of joy that the world did not give and cannot take away. It is a power that can change individuals, churches, and communities.”
“Being filled with the joy of the Lord does not imply that we don’t know the pain of a hurting world. The deep joy of our faith gives us the energy and power to take action on injustice,” said Gillies.
To invigorate that foundational spirit of joy found in our faith and encourage participation, YCFC has provided a listing of biblical passages and lectionary readings that focus on the theme of joy. These resources can be found at http://faith.yale.edu/joy/50-states-joy-preaching-series. As added incentive, pastors are invited to enter their joy sermon series in one of YCFC’s two sermon series competitions: The Theology of Joy and the Good Life Sermon Series Competition or Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing Sermon Series Competition. First prize in each competition is $2000.00, with three runner-up prizes of $500.00 also being awarded.
According to YCFC associate research scholar Angela Gorrell, “People don’t necessarily associate Christianity with joy. We hope pastors will assist congregants in theologically reflecting on joy and in connecting joy with Christ and the flourishing life. By the same token, we hope youth pastors will address practices that sustain joyful lives in adolescence.”
Help spread joy across the nation. Commit to preaching about joy this year. Share your sermons through social media with the hashtag #50statesofjoy; share your preaching plans with Dr. Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org; and participate in the series competition. Depart quickly. There is no need for fear; only great joy as we tell the world about our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.