Hendrix receives Lilly grant to help high schoolers discern calling

Hendrix College on Dec. 4 announced a grant of $598,164 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to create the Hendrix Youth Institute (HYI), a summer program that will help high school students discern a call to ministry. The college plans to use these grant funds to offer HYI for four consecutive summers.

HYI will engage the concept of engaging “head, heart and hands” to enable youth to understand God’s call. Student participants will take classes in the Bible, Wesleyan heritage, worship and spiritual formation; shadow a minister and participate in worship, small-group Bible study, local service opportunities, and discernment exercises; and attend an orientation to ministry event sponsored by the Arkansas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

The two-and-a-half-week program will culminate in a mission trip in which participants will work together, building relationships with those they serve and learning from one another. Through service to others, the students will better understand themselves and be able to further discern their call.

“I am extremely grateful that Lilly Endowment has entrusted us with this grant for very important work with high school youth,” said the Rev. J. Wayne Clark, the college’s associate vice president for development and dean of the chapel. “The College has been blessed to receive funds that have helped Hendrix students discern their vocational call, as well as helping clergy in their early ministry careers look at civic engagement and is thrilled for this next partnership. What we hope will be created is a culture of call that begins with high school youth, is nurtured in the college years and is sustained beyond seminary.”

Hendrix is one of 82 private four-year colleges and universities 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 Christian traditions, including Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches, as well as Catholic, non-denominational, Pentecostal and historic African-American Christian communities.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment is giving $44.5 million in grants through this initiative, part of its commitment to identify and cultivate theologically-minded young people who will become leaders in church and society.

“The colleges and universities participating in the youth theology initiative 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.”

Hendrix College in Conway is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation and value.