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Messiah College receives grant to establish the Theology Institute for High School Youth project

July 8th, 2016

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (July 8, 2016) — Messiah College has received a grant of $417,559 to establish the Messiah College Theology Institute for High School Youth project. 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 Messiah College Theology Institute for High School Youth will provide teens with a week-long summer experience to engage theological issues and themes, both in the academic context of the College campus and in its surrounding communities. Students will deepen their faith by exploring and enacting theology, through both reflection and practical ministry and service. The Institute will be led by faculty from Messiah College’s department of Biblical and Religious Studies with expertise in the areas of biblical studies, ministry and theology.

The mission of the Institute is to nurture students’ faith by deepening their understanding of God and by fostering their commitment to lives of service. The program will be two-pronged, coupling on-campus academic exploration with off-campus practice. Additionally, students’ faith will be nurtured through communal and individual on-campus programming, including worship services connected to each year’s theme.

“The Theology Institute for Youth at Messiah College is designed to extend our education mission to high school students, giving them the opportunity to reflect on significant theological issues in the context of service to others. This combination of learning through combining intellectual engagement with the world of ideas and practical engagement with the world around us characterizes educational programs across the College, and especially in the School of the Humanities,” said Pete Powers, dean of Messiah’s School of the Humanities. “We believe students learn best when they put their learning into action. The Theology Institute is one of three programs that run out of the School of the Humanities—including the Young Writers Workshop and the Young Filmmakers Workshop—that are designed to enrich, deepen, and broaden students engagement with the humanities as they prepare to lead productive lives in college and beyond,” he added.

Messiah College is one of 92 schools participating in the initiative. The schools are located in 30 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 $50 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.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

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.

About Messiah College

Messiah College, a private Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, enrolls more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1909, the primary campus is located in Mechanicsburg, Pa., near the state capital of Harrisburg.

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