News & Announcements

Lilly Endowment Inc. Awards $1.25 Million Renewal Grant for Seminary’s Young Adult Initiative

Members of Garrett's young adult initiative

In recognition of the outstanding contributions made in helping congregations strengthen their ministries and outreach to younger adults, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has received a renewal grant in the amount of $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. The “Holy Yearning, Holy Listening, Holy Partnerships” project, established in 2017, was formed out of the Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative, which aims to help congregations develop and strengthen congregational ministries that build relationships with young adults, nurture their religious lives, and foster their engagement with religious communities.

“I want to thank the Lilly Endowment for their vote of confidence in our ongoing commitment to the spiritual lives of younger adults and to the thriving of local congregations,” said Rev. Dr. Javier A. Viera, president of Garrett-Evangelical. “Lilly’s ongoing support also affirms the visionary and passionate leadership of Professor Reggie Blount, who along with Dr. Jennifer Moe, has led this impactful work since its inception. I’m glad that we will be able to continue this project, and even to expand its purpose and reach.”

For the past five years, Garrett-Evangelical has embarked upon a bold initiative to help congregations design and launch new ministries that would attract young adults – a population that congregations often struggle to reach. The project has been led by its director, the Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount, who also serves as associate professor of formation, leadership, and culture at Garrett-Evangelical, and associate director and post-doctoral fellow Dr. Jennifer Moe, and supported by a team of widely respected scholars and researchers. Through deep and intentional listening in a series of interviews with young adults, seven themes emerged and a curriculum for training teams at thirteen congregations was created. What resulted at the congregational level was new experiences and events, new ministries, new spaces, and an entirely new focus which centers the spiritual lives and yearnings of young adults.

In phase two, Garrett-Evangelical will focus on sharing the seven themes uncovered with a broader audience while continuing to partner with six of the original congregations to disseminate learnings and further develop young adult leaders. Specifically, Garrett-Evangelical will:

  • Inform congregations, judicatories, and other collaborative partners of the themes, proven practices, and key insights gleaned from our congregations who participated in the work in phase one. This will include partnering with Garrett-Evangelical’s department of Lifelong Learning in producing podcasts, webinars, open online courses, and more.
  • Support, cultivate, and empower the theological and leadership development of young adults. This work will be done in collaboration with the seminary’s faculty and course offerings, the department of Field Education, and community partnerships.

Blount and Moe will continue to serve as director and associate director respectively of this project. “We are confident phase two of this work will have a far-reaching impact on young adults, our organizational and congregational partners, and the Garrett-Evangelical community,” said Blount. “We will consider phase two to be of great success if we have extensively expanded our congregational reach and assisted them in developing and improving their ministries with young adults; cultivated a new cadre of young public theologians committed to putting their faith into action; and contributed to a seminary-wide culture shift that builds on its expertise advocating for and ministering with young adults.”

To learn more about the Young Adult Initiative and the Holy Yearnings, Holy Listening, Holy Partnerships project at Garrett-Evangelical, go to Garrett.edu/YoungAdultMinistry.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate, and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 400 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.