North Carolina Wesleyan College has received a grant of $600,000 to establish the North Carolina Wesleyan College 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.
Wesleyan’s Youth Theology Institute will be open to high school students who have completed grades 9 through 11. The Institute will partner with local ministries and mission projects so students can see vocational ministry in action. Students will also study with a Wesleyan religious studies faculty member, use scripture to wrestle with modern-day ethical issues, and focus on spiritual formation. Students will stay on Wesleyan’s campus during this week-long summer program. After the summer program, students will be mentored by a clergy member in their community so they have an opportunity to lead and serve. Applications will be available in January, and the first summer session will begin in June, 2016.
Wesleyan’s president, Dr. Dewey G. Clark, said, “This Institute will have a profound impact on the future of the college, the church and God’s kingdom.” Clark has named Kathryn Carroll as the director of the Institute. Carroll can be reached in the president’s office at (252) 985-5100.
North Carolina Wesleyan College 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.
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.
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.