One hundred and four years since Azusa Pacific University’s founding, the training of Christian workers remains a core institutional value. The 2002-03 academic year marked the receipt of grant funding to create two new programs which creatively support the university’s mission to develop disciple-scholars.
In July 2002, Azusa Pacific University received a $1,715,191 grant from the Indianapolis, Indiana-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. as part of a nationwide initiative to provide opportunities for high school-age youth to engage in theological study and inquiry. APU’s Haggard School of Theology used the grant to implement a Youth Leadership Institute for local teens beginning summer 2003.
“This grant enables the school to fulfill the God-given dream of reaching youth, encouraging them to go into ministry through deep theological reflection,” said Kevin Mannoia, Ph.D., dean of Haggard School of Theology. The program allows Azusa Pacific University to develop an effective tool for drawing youth into a deeper investigation of their faith and calling, fulfilling the university’s mission to engage youth in theological reflection and stimulate their Christian leadership potential.
The Youth Leadership Institute, under the direction of Robin Dugall, immerses 80-100 recruited students in a two-week, in-depth Theological Education and Ministry (T.E.A.M.) Conference held at Azusa Pacific during the summer. The institute follows the conference with set assessment times, ranging from three to six years, to gauge the short- and long-term changes in youth’s beliefs and activities related to theology and ministry. Recruiters target juniors and seniors in high school through contacts with key congregations, pastors, and youth workers, as well as introduce the program through brochures and an interactive website. The grant is a part of the Endowment’s “Theological Programs for High School Youth” program, which has awarded a total of $57.3 million to 50 schools.
Five months later, APU received a $2 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to implement a five-year campus-wide initiative, Vocation as Ministry/Ministry as Vocation. This marked the second-largest single grant in the university’s history. The initiative, created in response to understanding the church’s needs for pastoral and lay ministry, applies the theological exploration of vocation to encourage students to become religiously committed leaders in the church and society.
“This profoundly impacts scholarship, faculty development, and faith integration in the classroom,” said Michael M. Whyte, Ph.D., APU’s provost. “This type of program will be a guiding force as we work to build a dynamic relationship between the academic knowledge higher education provides and the responsibility we have as Christian scholars to use it to make a difference in the world for Christ.”
With the grant, APU equips university faculty and staff members to more purposefully integrate faith into the classroom and campus life, exploring vocation and incorporating the concept of ministry and career. The first step in this process occurred with the creation of the Office of Christian Leadership and Vocation and subsequent hire of educator and theologian Tamsen Murray, Ph.D., as executive director.
“This grant from the Endowment brings support to the very core of our mission,” said Jon R. Wallace, DBA, president. “APU is committed to preparing men and women to embrace their vocation as a call to ministry and to seriously consider ministry as a vocational calling. I believe this grant comes at exactly the right time for a strong faculty and a gifted student body to sharpen their Christian worldview to impact both vocation and ministry.”