Grand View Receives Grant from Lilly Endowment to Develop Youth Theological Institute

June 22, 2016

A grant will allow Grand View to foster faith formation for high school youth.

Grand View University has received $600,000 to establish the NEXUS Community of Young Christian Leaders. Part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, NEXUS seeks to encourage young people to explore their theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, and examine how their faith calls them into lives of service.

NEXUS is a collaboration between Grand View’s Student Ministries and the University’s Theology and Philosophy Department with the aim of producing theologically-minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.  Each summer, 150 high school students will be invited to Grand View’s campus for a weeklong theological academy that includes elements of study, fellowship, and service. Research has shown that a quarter of seminary students first considered attending seminary before they enrolled in college. As Russell Lackey, Campus Pastor at Grand View, explains, “Building on current research, NEXUS is intended to engage high school students in the complexities of faith while also challenging them to consider working for a lifetime in ministry.”

A “community” format will be utilized to provide participants in-depth exploration of the scriptures and Lutheran traditions, as well as engage and discover their personal vocations that intersect this world. As Ken Jones, Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Grand View, says “Christian faith is lived in community, and pastors are called out of those communities. We want to build that sense of belonging and identity that foster a call to ministry.”

Participants will enjoy Grand View’s state-of-the-art educational facilities and technology, modern residential suites, and new dining and recreational facilities. “Grand View’s campus, and our location in Des Moines, will provide an ideal setting for this important discernment process,” says Kent Henning, President of Grand View. “We wholeheartedly share Lilly Endowment’s desire to nurture the faith exploration of our young people.”

During their stay at Grand View, participants will be introduced to the NEXUS online community which will provide them with a continuation of the resources they experienced on-campus and as well as additional learning opportunities composed when they return home. Mark Mattes, Grand View Theology and Philosophy Department Chair, explains, “Participants will be encouraged to continue their fellowship with each other and the Grand View staff after they return to their homes and congregations.”

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 supports the causes of religion, education and community development. They seek to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians, largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

The Theology and Philosophy Department and Student Ministries at Grand View are deeply humbled to receive this grant. A service of thanksgiving will be held July 7 at Luther Memorial Church. The service will begin at 10:30am followed by a reception. All are welcome to join.