Princeton Theological Seminary Launches Young Adult Leadership Network - Princeton Theological Seminary

Princeton Theological Seminary is thrilled to announce the 2023 launch of a Young Adult Leadership Network. The Network seeks to cultivate community among young adult Christian leaders, amplify their ministries in a variety of local contexts, and inspire other young adults to lead from their own Christian faith. In the coming year, the Network will begin with a fellowship program. Fellows ages 23-29 will be nominated from across the country to participate in a yearlong leadership acceleration cohort to build relationships with each other and strengthen initiatives in their own neighborhoods and home congregations. Fellows will receive coaching and subgrants to support their work. They will also receive funding to visit a person who they admire and who sparks their Christian imagination.

Kenda Creasy Dean, Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture and Faculty Senior Strategist for the Network, notes, “One of the greatest needs for young Christian leaders is a network of peers. Of course, this Network will allow these young adults to support and resource one another, but also to remind them that they are not alone. We hear from young adult Christian leaders that they feel like they are completely alone in their work. It doesn’t have to be that way. The Network’s peer-learning approach is designed to surround them with gifted peers who ‘get it.’”

Over time, workshops on vocational discernment, online networking opportunities, and downloadable resources for young adults will be available. These resources will help people across the U.S. hone their leadership skills, discern their calling, connect with each other, and amplify their stories in public life. Project Director Shari Oosting shares, “The dominant narrative about young adults is that they are losing their faith. It’s a story of decline. But we know that isn’t the only story, and it’s not true of all young people. We want to complexify what has become an oversimplified story by shining a spotlight on young adults who lead in their neighborhoods, congregations, and ministries from a deep and vibrant faith. We are so excited to learn with and from these compelling young adults.”

In helping young adults from a variety of backgrounds explore how their Christian beliefs can shape and inform their work, the Network affirms Princeton Seminary’s commitment to empower ministry professionals and faithful laypersons to serve the church and the world. Recognizing that a call to servant leadership comes in many forms, the Network aims to meet people where they are and equip them to thrive as they pursue their calls.

Alongside work with young adults, the Network will engage an extensive research and mapping project to learn from organizations who serve and inspire young adult Christian leaders. Learnings will be publicly shared so that pastors, parents, educators, and young adults themselves can better understand the landscape and scope of vibrant Christian leadership among people in their 20s. Associate Dean of Continuing Education Abigail Visco Rusert reflects, “Moving from a lens of scarcity to a lens of curiosity is integral to this project. We want to explore the places and spaces where young adults are already building a bridge between their faith, their work, and their community. Leaders who love the church have something to learn from the stories of young adults.”

The Young Adult Leadership Network at Princeton Seminary is funded by a generous $4 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. Click here to learn more. Housed in the Seminary’s Office of Continuing Education, the work will be led by Abigail Visco Rusert, Kenda Creasy Dean, and Shari Oosting.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate, and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.