MidAmerica Nazarene University received a $600,000 grant to establish a youth theology summer institute. It is part of Lilly Endowment’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.
Beginning in summer 2016, the YES camp at MNU will welcome high school juniors and seniors engaged in exploring a call to ministry. The students will stay on campus in residence halls and enjoy workshops, speakers, activities, and fun while learning from a variety of ministry partners. MNU’s Christian Ministry and Formation faculty will join with resources such as Nazarene Theological Seminary, the Olathe Pastor's Network, the Church of the Nazarene, Nazarene Youth International, Youth Front, Christian high schools, and others to facilitate discussion groups, conduct focus groups on youth engagement in local ministry, and to host service opportunities throughout the summer camp. The conference will utilize resources from the spectrum of programs and services available at MNU to facilitate the event.
Randy Cloud, program director, says students will discuss not only theology and Bible, but will also investigate other ministry areas such as multicultural opportunities, worship, sharing one’s faith, ethics, and spiritual formation.
“We are grateful for this award and are committed to being good stewards of this grant,” Cloud said. “The end goal of the institute is to help high school students see themselves as leaders in their churches both locally and globally. This program will have significant implications for the future of the church.”
MNU is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative, including Trevecca Nazarene University. 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 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.
An additional grant to the Forum for Theological Exploration will establish a program that will bring together leaders of the high school youth theology institutes to foster mutual learning and support.