Since 1998, Lilly Endowment Inc. has funded dozens of programs at seminaries and colleges to establish or sustain programs for high school youth that will nurture young people in thinking about and practicing the Christian life, and help them consider vocations in ministry. Princeton Seminary received a $500,000 grant that brings together practical theologians with some of the program directors of these high school theology programs.

lilly grant research teamNow in its second year of the grant, the research team, with Professor Kenda Creasy Dean, Princeton Seminary professor of youth, church, and culture, as project director, has organized discussions with two goals in mind: to identify how the teaching in these programs is informed by theology, and to discern what theological schools can learn from the way these programs teach theology to young people doing vocational discernment. 

Now that the meetings are completed, the research team is in the process of analyzing the data and developing ways to share it. Team members from Princeton Seminary include faculty Gordon Mikoski and Kenda Creasy Dean, and students Katherine Douglass, Christy Hearlson, Marcus Hong, Nathan Stucky, Stephen Cady, Wendy Mohler, Ashley Coates, and McLane Stone, with Kristie Finley acting as project manager.  

“For the past twenty years, these programs have had the freedom to invent a kind of theological education from scratch, focusing on young Christian leaders who are still discerning how to live out their faith in the world,” says Dean. “These programs are helping us stretch our imaginations about what theological education for the twenty-first century can look like.” 

Find out more about Lilly’s Theological School Programs for High School Youth.  

Pictured: Team members of the Lilly-funded High School Theology Seminar meeting at Princeton Seminary in early February.