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Grants and Projects

Changing the way we think about ministry

Science for Youth Ministry

A three-year, $1.2 million John Templeton Foundation grant, "Science for Youth Ministry: The Plausibility of Transcendence," has been awarded to Luther Seminary.

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.

Research will be led by Dr. Andrew Root (Luther Seminary), the Rev. Dr. Tony Jones and the Rev. Dr. David White. 

Learn more about Science for Youth Ministry Grant


The Learning Preacher

Luther Seminary received a $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., to support a four-year project called The Learning Preacher: Instilling a Trajectory of Lifelong Homiletical Instruction. The Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation that supports the causes of religion, education and community development. The grant director at Luther Seminary is Dr. Karoline Lewis.

Learn more about Learning Preacher Grant


Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers

In 2014, Luther Seminary received a $239,500 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive this funding. This three-year project will have two areas of focus. Luther Seminary will study how educational debt affects the ability of seminary graduates to lead stewardship in the congregations and missions they serve. And Luther Seminary will explore ways to reduce student debt. This comprehensive project will involve hundreds of our graduates, and the congregations and individuals who have supported them along the way. 

Learn more about Addressing Economic Issues


The Confirmation Project

Princeton Theological Seminary received a $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund a study of confirmation practices in five North American Protestant denominations—the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Luther Seminary is participating in this grant administered by Princeton Theological Seminary.

The Confirmation Project, Christian Youth: Learning and Living the Faith, will explore the effectiveness of confirmation and equivalent practices for strengthening discipleship in youth. It will also provide churches with examples of strategies and practices to help young Christians grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the end, the goal is to benefit churches and young people. Research outcomes include helping churches gain an understanding of confirmation and equivalent practices across denominations, and helping them assess the expectations and levels of satisfaction of young people, their parents, and ministry leaders.

Qualitative research began in 2014, with site visits and a focus on storytelling about confirmation practices. The project will conclude in December 2016. Terri Elton, Associate Professor of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry, is the lead faculty member from Luther Seminary coordinating the project.

Learn more about the Confirmation Project


Vibrant Congregations Project

The Vibrant Congregations Project (VCP) was awarded in 2009 and is scheduled to complete its work in 2016. Luther Seminary partnered with congregations to: a) understand the challenges of faithful innovation in key ministry areas and b) create resources to more effectively support others looking to do the same. These learning partnerships unfolded in three phases, in cohorts of 7-12 congregations, for:

  • discovery, identifying current attitudes, habits, and practices in a given area;

  • experimentation, trying out new patterns of being and acting in response to these discoveries;

  • assessment, taking stock of the new practices and making adjustments as needed.

The key ministry areas engaged were:

  • Bible Study

  • Vocation

  • Biblical Preaching

  • Stewardship

Learn more about Vibrant Congregations Project


Learning Pastoral Imagination

The Learning Pastoral Imagination (LPI) Project is a five-year study that concluding in December 2016 that responds to the question of how pastoral imagination is formed through practice in ministry over time in light of the fact that seminary graduates report significant gaps in their preparation for the practice of ministry. The ecumenical project is working with 50 Christian pastors at various intervals of time as well as 50 seminary students as they move from professional training into ministry. Research takes place through small group and individual interviews as well as follow-up congregational visits across five regions of the United States.

Learn more about LPI Project


Reformation Research Project

The Reformation Research Program offers both resources and opportunities for broadening the appreciation of the heritage of the Reformation (particularly the Lutheran Reformation).  The program has two major arenas of activity:

  • The program currently seeks to offer programs to stimulate discussion in various venues of the Reformation, in particular, the Lutheran Reformation, its theology, context and heritage, as well as its resonances and implications for today.  It has sponsored conferences, consultations, and colloquy over the last five years to fulfill this aim. It is participating in planning for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
  • The program maintains a fine collection of reformation-era works on microfiche.  While continuing to receive orders previously submitted to European libraries, the program is not currently ordering materials but rather seeks to expand access to its collection through appropriate cataloging as well as advertising in scholarly journals. You can access more than 42,000 documents via the Reformation Research collection on the Luther Seminary Library site.

The Reformation Research Program encourages and enhances interest in and reflection upon the heritage of the Lutheran Reformation in particular and the movements in Christianity in the 16th and 17th century more broadly.  Dr. Mary Jane Haemig, Professor of Church History, is the program’s director.



Theology of Joy and the Good Life

The Yale Center for Faith & Culture has received a $4.2 million grant from The John Templeton Foundation for a three-year research project called the “Theology of Joy and the Good Life.” The research project will facilitate interdisciplinary conferences and gatherings to build a transformative movement driven by a Christian articulation of the joy that attends the flourishing of human life.

Andrew Root, associate professor and Carrie Olson Baalson Chair of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, has been appointed to the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing (JAFF) Advisory Board, a major area of focus for the project. The JAFF subproject will examine adolescence as a uniquely consequential phase of moral and spiritual development, with profound implications for long-term prospects of a life of joyful flourishing.

Root will conduct research and direct the project in collaboration with the project’s principal investigator, Miroslav Volf, professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, along with other worldwide scholars and religious leaders.

More information about the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project is available at