Helping faith communities reconsider, reshape, and engage young adults in meaningful questions about their spirituality are core goals at the heart of a program that just received a nearly $1.5 million grant from the Young Adult Initiative of Lilly Endowment Inc.
Augsburg will use the grant to establish an innovation hub for Twin Cities urban congregations seeking to engage people ages 23-29 in ministries that support and enrich their spiritual lives.
Under the leadership of Rev. Mark Hanson ’68, Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation, and Dr. Jeremy Myers, Associate Professor of Religion, Augsburg will leverage its urban location and deep community connections to help review, assess, and evaluate young adult engagement with congregations and faith communities in the Twin Cities.
“As a university of the Lutheran church committed to serving and living out our mission in one of the most diverse ZIP codes in the nation, we will seek to help our ELCA churches grow in our shared understanding of faith formation among young adults while creating rich opportunities for young adults to explore new opportunities for learning and leadership available to them within a variety of faith communities,” said Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow.
The program will involve collaboration between the office of the President, the Youth and Family Ministry department, Campus Ministry, and the Christensen Center for Vocation. Augsburg will focus on four pathways where it has strong experience and expertise: faith and the arts, faith and environmental issues, faith and political activism, and interfaith living.
Augsburg’s interfaith programming was the subject of a recent commentary in The New York Times by award-winning author, columnist, and professor Samuel Freedman. The piece, “Muslim College Chaplains Extend a Hand Across Religious Divides,” highlighted the work of Muslim Student Program Associate and Chaplain Fardosa Hassan ’12.
Augsburg College was one of five national finalists in the United States named to the prestigious President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction in the interfaith and community service category in both 2014 and 2015. The College has been named to the top tier of recognition—the honor roll with distinction—for this prominent national award six times.
Augsburg is one of 12 colleges, universities, and theological schools taking part in Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult initiative. The organizations are located in 10 states and the District of Columbia and reflect diverse Christian traditions – Mainline Protestant, evangelical and historic African American denominations, as well as Roman Catholic, Orthodox and independent congregations.
“Congregations can easily slip into old practices of ministry that are unhelpful or even push away young adults rather than engage them and draw them into ministry and service opportunities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president of religion.
“A significant part of this work will focus on helping congregational leaders understand young adulthood today and the changing contexts that shape what young adults value and expect.”
Later this year, Augsburg will begin forming a cohort of congregations to study and partner with. In 2019, the college will issue subgrants to select congregations to carry out programs, projects, and activities that are designed to meet the specific goal of young adult engagement.
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.