Students at commencement

Science  for Youth Ministry

A John Templeton Foundation grant

Luther Seminary has received a $1.2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund a three-year project called Science for Youth Ministry: The Plausibility of Transcendence. The project will catalyze faith-and-science conversations with young people through youth ministry and will produce materials to encourage those discussions. Luther Seminary received a previous $188,540 planning grant in April 2014 from the Foundation to conduct initial research for the project.

Science for Youth Ministry logoDr. Andrew Root, associate professor and Carrie Olson Baalson Chair of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, will lead the project, along with the Rev. David Wood, senior pastor of Glencoe Union Church in Glencoe, Ill., and the Rev. Dr. Tony Jones, professor in the practice of theology at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. View latest updates at www.scienceym.org.

“The John Templeton Foundation has been funding dialogue between faith and science for a long time, but no one has yet done anything specifically directed at Protestant youth ministries,” Root said. “With this grant, we’re going to create resources that platform the faith-and-science conversation with adolescents as a way of really exploring the plausibility of transcendence. Is it logical—or even possible—for teenagers to believe that’s there’s a God who exists beyond the natural, material universe? We will seek an answer to this question.”

The project will create resource material that supports conversations regarding faith and science, including videos, writing symposia and mini-grants targeted to educators at undergraduate and seminary levels.

Wood said the grant directors will lead a pilgrimage to Europe with selected teenagers to explore some of the sites that best represent the history of conflict and cooperation between scientists and the church. Out of this trip will come a series of documentary films, suitable for use in youth ministries. Root will also write a book as part of the project.

“For teenagers in the West, it can be hard to reconcile faith in something that can’t be proven, that isn’t scientific,” said Jones. “We want to equip youth and youth workers to explore the possibility of God, even in a world that challenges that idea.”

Root said it is an honor for Luther Seminary to have received such a substantive grant from the John Templeton Foundation. “They’ve funded and supported amazing intellectual and cultural engagement work for decades. We’re thrilled to be working with them on this important project.”

About the John Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation funds independent research and public engagement, pursuing breakthrough discoveries to expand our current knowledge about the universe, the full potentials of humanity and life’s ultimate purpose. The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” exemplifies its support for open-minded inquiry, commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship, and encouraging civil, informed dialogue among scientists, scholars, theologians and the public at large.