LeTourneau University received a $600,000 Lilly Foundation grant to create a theological institute for high school students to explore their vocational calling.
The strategic initiative, called Passage Institute for Youth and Theology, will provide the opportunity for 50 high school students from around the Ark-La-Tex area each year to participate in a Passage Fellowship.
Participation features two week-long residential experiences on the LETU campus in Longview with direct engagement with a leadership team including LETU theology professors Dr. Luke Tallon, Dr. Pat Mays and Dr. Jonathan Lett.
The Passage Fellowship also provides student participants with a year-long mentorship program with a Passage Mentor from their local church, guided by the Passage Institute.
Each Passage Mentor will have completed an application and review process to address willingness, commitment, and aptitude for being a Passage Mentor. Those selected will attend a one-day Passage Mentor Training in April 2017 at LETU’s main campus in Longview which will equip each Passage Mentor with the tools and resources needed to be effective mentors.
“The mission of the Passage Institute for Youth and Theology is to equip youth and those who minister to youth for participation in God’s mission to reconcile and restore all creation through Christian study and practices,” said Pat Mays, director of programming for the Passage Institute.
“Our goal and our prayer is for youth to be transformed for Christian leadership in all areas of life through faithful response to Jesus’ call to participate in God’s mission of reconciliation and restoration,” Mays said. “Over the last generations, Christians in America have not been very successful in evangelizing and discipling youth. Recent studies, however, have shown that youth who have engaged in serious theological study and intentional Christian practices have a more resilient faith. We aim to serve the church by multiplying such experiences for students in the Ark-La-Tex region.”
Students who qualify to participate must be high school juniors during Summer 2017 with demonstrated commitment to and leadership within their local churches.
“This yearlong immersion in Christian theology and practices is bookended with a week-long theology camp at LETU in the summer of June 2017 and again in summer 2018, with intentional mentoring with a leader from their local churches and a mid-year retreat in January 2018,” Mays said.
Passage Institute’s director of theology Luke Tallon says the Passage Fellows will gather on LeTourneau University’s Longview campus for an intensive week of study, worship, and practice. Seminars will be led by LETU theology faculty as Passage Fellows delve into classic Christian theology.
Passage Fellows will take the ideas learned in class to the streets through mission projects and outdoor adventures. “Think of it as a retreat on steroids, a combination of mission trip, camp, and discipleship class all rolled into one,” Tallon said.
Following the first residential experience, Passage Fellows will be mentored by a Passage Mentor from their local church. During the mentoring year, considerable time will be given to nurturing the spiritual life and in developing Christian community by designing and implementing a project for the local church.
“Phase Two happens one year later,” Tallon said. “That is when Phase Two Passage Fellows take on leadership roles in the Passage residential experience and move on to advanced theology seminars while they provide guidance for new, incoming Phase I Passage Fellows.”
Parents, pastors, youth pastors, or church leaders may nominate youth who they believe will benefit and thrive in the Passage Fellowship.
“Once a nomination is received, then the youth will be notified,” said Jonathan Lett, director of outreach for the Passage Institute. “At that point, the nominated youth will need to complete an application, along with securing the appropriate references.”
Lett said that youth can initiate the process by first completing an online application that includes two short essays, and then securing a nomination and references. Nominations and references can be done by the same person.
The completed nominations, application, and references are due by Jan. 15, 2017 for the 2017-2018 fellowships. The Passage Leadership Team will review nominations and send out invitations to the Passage Fellows in March 2017.
Students interested in being a Passage Fellow can contact Lett by email at JonathanLett@letu.edu.
LeTourneau University is the premier polytechnic university in the nation 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 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a range of disciplines and delivery models at LETU’s residential campus in Longview, Texas, and in hybrid and fully online options at centers in Dallas, McKinney and Houston. For additional information, visit www.letu.edu.