By James Dalton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BNc)- The Pennington Bend congregation¬† completed the 37th year of the Future Preacher’s Training Camp.
This year campers came from Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas and multiple locations throughout Tennessee.
The congregation hosts the camp at their meeting location every year during the third full week of July. The camp begins on the third Sunday evening in July and concludes the next Sunday afternoon.

The camp’s purpose is to train and encourage future preachers. It is offered to young Christian men 13-18, free of charge. Room and board are provided each year to the campers in the meeting place of the congregation.

This year’s camp offered great classes during the day, covering topics including sermon preparation, sermon delivery, word studies and educational paths open to future preachers.

Guest speakers for the classes included Michael Grooms, Mike Dugger, Thomas Snow, Jerry Sweafford, Jr., and Dr. Rodney Cloud of Nashville; Keith Parker of Hendersonville, Tenn.; David Dalton of Algood, Tenn.; and Wayne Scott of Henderson, Tenn.

A gospel meeting was held Sunday through Thursday evenings. Speakers included Dr. Brad Harrub of Focus Press; Mike Dowell from the Gospel Advocate; Winford Claiborne, author and speaker of International Gospel Hour; William Woodson, former chairman of the Bible Department at Freed-Hardeman University and retired director of graduate studies at David Lipscomb University; and Gary Hampton, director of East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions.

Each day campers had classes taught by current preachers, studied the Word, prepared lessons on an assigned Bible topic, practiced public speaking and enjoyed fellowship with other young Christian men.

The week also involved field trips to the Gospel Advocate, visits to the graves of past gospel preachers and a visit to sing with residents of a local nursing home.

By the end of the week, all campers had prepared a lesson on an assigned Bible topic. Friday, the campers presented their lessons to the other campers, staff members and guests, who agreed that every camper had presented a Biblical lesson in a very competent way.

Of the campers, five were selected to speak to the Pennington Bend congregation on Sunday morning: Isaac Bourne of Adams, Tenn., Gantt Carter of Fayetteville, Tenn., Clay Leonard of Valdosta, Ga., D.J. Rhoten of Nashville, and Zach Sherrill of Monteagle, Tenn.

At the closing ceremony, several campers were recognized with special honors selected by their fellow campers.

Gantt Carter was selected as the Outstanding Camper of the week. Nathan Bellefant, Jr. of Nashville was selected as Most Improved over the course of the week. Clay Leonard was selected for the Barnabas Award for encouraging his fellow campers. Aaron Trimm of Paragould, Ark., was selected to receive the Blake Howell Service Award for being an example of serving others.

This year the camp was under the direction of Tom Boyette, minister for the Pennington Bend congregation. James Dalton, minister of the Northside congregation in Blytheville, Ark., served as assistant director.

Grant Carey, member at Pennington Bend, James Lauderdale, member at the Crieve Hall congregation in Nashville, and Jerry Sweafford, Jr, youth minister for the Trinity Lane congregation in Nashville, served as counselors.

Individuals interested in attending the Future Preacher’s Training Camp in 2009 should contact the Pennington Bend church at 2801 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN¬† 37214, by phone at 615-889-9068 or by e-mail at

Applications are sent out each spring to interested young men.