News Releases 2015

LeTourneau University Receives $600,000 Grant from Lilly Endowment For High School Youth Theology Institutes Iniitiative

Mon, Dec 7 2015

LeTourneau University President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford has announced that LETU has received a $592,299 from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to establish Passage, a year-long experience dedicated to helping high school students discern God’s call and respond faithfully. It is part of Lilly Endowment’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.

At the heart of the Passage experience is a week spent on LeTourneau University’s Longview campus. Students will study with faculty from LeTourneau’s School of Theology and Vocation, do community service projects in Longview, partner with current LeTourneau students, and engage Christian Scripture and their own theological traditions.
Students will attend two weekend retreats and be mentored by volunteers from their home churches. The interdenominational program was designed for high school students in the Ark-La-Tex region who have completed their freshman or sophomore years in high school and who want to explore their calling in community with LeTourneau faculty, students, and staff.

The grant from the Lilly Endowment will provide the majority the funding for Passage in the summers of 2017-2020. The website for applications and nominations will open in the summer of 2016.

“LeTourneau University’s commitment to equipping students to discover and pursue their vocations stands at the heart of this program,” said Dr. Luke Tallon, Director of Theology for Passage and Assistant Professor of Theology in LeTourneau’s School of Theology and Vocation. “The ultimate goal is to strengthen and equip the global church, particularly those congregations in the Ark-La-Tex region.”

LeTourneau University is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative.  The schools are located in 29 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 $44.5 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.

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.

LeTourneau University is a comprehensive institution of Christ-centered higher education where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community.  LETU offers a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in aviation, arts & sciences, business, education, engineering, nursing, psychology and theology. Around 1,300 students study at LETU’s main campus in Longview,   Texas.  LETU also offers a robust suite of online programs, as well as hybrid programs in Dallas and Houston. Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact. For additional information, visit www.letu.edu.