The University of Findlay has received a $400,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to finance free, annual week-long summer institutes, beginning in 2016, for rising 10-12th grade students who are interested in learning more about their faith, and how it intersects with and informs other aspects of their lives, including career choice.
UF is calling its program “The Well,” a Biblical reference, to emphasize how faith and future flow together.
The institutes will have a non-denominational, Christian-focused context, but students from all faith traditions are welcome to participate. Activities involving on-campus education and trips throughout the region will incorporate numerous opportunities to learn about other religions, including Islam and Judaism. The effort is meant to serve as a faith-strengthening endeavor, not a proselytizing opportunity.
The funding 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 first of four annual summer institutes will be held Sunday through Friday, July 10-15, 2016. Fifty participants will be accepted. Overnight accommodations, food and all activities will be fully funded for participants. This event, and subsequent institutes, will be conducted by faculty in UF’s religion and philosophy department, Campus Ministry, faculty and staff from the University’s other five colleges, and by college student leaders.
“Each institute will focus on the integration of faith, life and learning,” explained Shawn Graves, Ph.D., assistant philosophy professor. Rather than compartmentalizing their religion, participants will be encouraged to expand their imaginations by exploring other ways in which it can be incorporated. They will study sacred scripture and pivotal theological texts; take part in service projects and hands-on ministry experiences; consider moral and ethical matters; and learn about religious practices, including prayer, contemplation and worship. “Storytellers” will discuss how they live out their faiths through their professions. Leisure activities will also be included.
More specifics about The Well can be found here.
UF is one of 82 private, four-year colleges and universities throughout the nation – three of them in Ohio – that received a total of $44.5 million as part of the Endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.
Although some recipient schools are independent, many reflect the religious heritage of their founding Christian traditions. The University of Findlay was founded in 1882 by leaders of the Churches of God, General Conference (then Churches of God in North America), who drew upon their service-oriented religious convictions to establish the institution as a teaching school. While the University has, over the years, embraced secular learning, the Churches of God remains affiliated with UF in many ways.
The summer institutes will mirror UF’s religious perspectives by representing “our active investment in the Judeo-Christian heritage while maintaining a non-sectarian stance,” explained Matt Ginter, associate director of Campus Ministry.
The final grant-funded institute will be held in summer 2019, but the University hopes to sustain the program with alternative financial assistance.
“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.”
“Young people today want to make a difference,” Coble continued. “These programs will connect them to faculty and religious leaders who will help them explore that longing by drawing more deeply on scripture and theology as they make decisions about their futures.”
The initiative builds on previous efforts to encourage young people to explore Christian leadership and service. In 1998, the Endowment made grants to seminaries to create high school youth theology programs. In 1999, it began making grants to support private colleges and universities as they strived to cultivate faith and vocation programs for undergraduates.
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.
Want to know more about this summer camp? Click here to find out more.
About The University of Findlay
The University of Findlay is a flexible, forward-looking institution that is constantly seeking ways to better serve students and the community. Its mission is to help individuals find the path to a meaningful life and productive career. Established in 1882, the University was founded on the principles of personal faith, civic-mindedness and scholarly achievement. It is committed to providing the personal attention essential to the development of students as whole persons – knowledgeable, creative, ethical and compassionate leaders in a global environment. The University of Findlay offers more than 60 majors in business, education, health, liberal arts, pharmacy and sciences.
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.
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