Huntington University recipient of 2015 High School Youth Theology Institutes grant

Huntington University has received a grant of $600,000 to establish the Veritas Youth Theology Institute. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

The Veritas Youth Theology Institute will continue Huntington’s tradition of a commitment to excellence and Christian mission as it identifies, equips and inspires young leaders to explore the identity, mission and teachings of Christ as they take shape in the Church and culture.

There are three stages to the institute:

  • Stage 1: High school juniors and seniors will engage in an eight-day institute at Huntington, incorporating theological reading and reflection, personal and corporate worship, mentoring and service.
  • Stage 2: Students will receive personal mentoring by pastors in their local churches and will participate in service within their communities and in an online community for support and further theological reflection.
  • Stage 3: Students will be invited to participate in another immersive institute to be held in an international environment alongside ministry partners.

“The focus of this institute is Christology,” said Dr. Karen Jones, professor of Ministry & Missions. “We want students to wrestle with questions about who Jesus is, who Jesus says we are and what Jesus has called us to do.”

Jones worked with Dr. Tom Bergler, professor of Ministry & Missions, and Dr. Kent Eilers, associate professor of Theology, to create the grant proposal. Huntington University has invited Evangelical Seminary in Pennsylvania, Group Publishing in Colorado, Youth for Christ, and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, to partner with the Veritas Youth Theology Institute to enhance the program. The program will launch in the summer of 2017.

Huntington University is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative. The schools are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Although some schools are independent, many reflect the religious heritage of their founding traditions. These traditions include Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches, as well as Roman Catholic, non-denominational, Pentecostal and historic African-American Christian communities.

“These colleges and universities are well-positioned to reach out to high school students in this way,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “They have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges.”

The Endowment is giving $44.5 million in grants to help a select group of private four-year colleges and universities around the nation to create the institutes. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons, J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes