Youth ministry organization awarded grant for theological training of youth and leaders

CYMT_300Brentwood, TN—The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a generous grant of $240,000 over three years from Lilly Endowment Inc. This grant will fund the Theology Together project, which seeks to educate youth workers alongside the teenagers with whom they minister. Theology Together will work to change the current climate of congregational youth ministry while encouraging the introduction of theological dialogue, vocational discernment, and reflective action into the culture of youth ministry in the local church.

The Center for Youth Ministry Training was founded as a cooperative partnership between the Brentwood United Methodist Church located in Brentwood, TN and the First Presbyterian Church located in Nashville, TN. CYMT has been an active partner with a number of United Methodist congregations in training youth leaders.

The CYMT believes that youth ministry is not all about playing games and singing songs around a campfire, but should be an environment in which youth ministers and youth can be engaged in theological discussion and reflective action.

Rev. Andrew Zirschky, CYMT’s Academic Director and Project Manager, says, “Every Theology Together immersion experience of service, mission, or social justice will combine a robust theological and vocational exploration for youth in the context of relational service work, it will equip youth workers to conduct theological discussions with young people, and it will foster the development of creative and theologically rich youth ministry practices within congregational youth ministry.”

The largest component of the program is the Summer Immersion Experience, a week consisting of four components: First, youth and adults engage together in disorienting experiences of service, mission, and social justice. Second, group discussions lead youth and adults to process the ways in which their experiences raise theological questions. Third, times of theological instruction guided by seminary professors provide youth and adults with both vocabulary and resources for robust theological reflection. Fourth, each church’s youth and adults converse about how the week’s experiences and conversations can be continued in new practices when they return home.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., with gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment Inc.’s religion grant making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

The Center for Youth Ministry Training offers a three-year graduate residency in youth ministry program in which residents earn a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary. The CYMT, an ecumenical organization that works with churches in the greater Nashville, Memphis, and Birmingham regions, equips youth ministers and churches to develop theologically informed and practically effective youth ministries. For more information, visit

UMReporter Staff

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