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Catawba Receives $600,000 Grant from Lilly Endowment

January 27, 2016

Category: Faculty, Gifts, Students

logo_lillycenter.jpgFor the third time in 12 years, Lilly Endowment Inc. has provided a substantial grant to Catawba College. The latest grant, announced in December and totaling $600,000, will fund a program titled "DISCOVER" that will educate middle and senior high school youth about theology and ministry and help prepare the next generation of leadership for the Church.

The funded program will involve collaboration from faculty at Catawba, Livingstone College, Hood Theological Seminary, and some local clergy to create a vibrant and challenging curriculum for the youth who opt to pursue the study of God and of faith. "DISCOVER" will be a part of the Lilly Endowment Inc.'s High School Youth Theology Institutes Initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

Catawba, Livingstone and Hood students will also be involved in "DISCOVER," mentoring and providing leadership to program participants, and giving feedback during the curriculum development process. "DISCOVER" will make it possible for 180 middle and senior high youth to attend a week-long camp type experience.

College and seminary students from the three Salisbury-based institutions will accompany program participants on field trips, service projects, and in developing worship experiences. "DISCOVER" will also afford college students with opportunities for internships and experiential learning experiences in programs as varied as outdoor ministries to education to business management.


The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Clapp, chaplain, senior vice-president and director of the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values at Catawba, was the principal author of the most recent grant. He teamed up with the Rev. Troy Russell from Livingstone College, the Rev. Dr. Trevor Eppehimer from Hood Seminary, the Rev. Carol Hallman from First United Church of Christ, the Rev. David Black from St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Salisbury, the Rev. Danielle Kosanovich from St. John's Lutheran Church of Salisbury, and the Rev. Dr. Barry Sang from Catawba to develop the concept of an intensive summer experience for youth.

During the summer experience, youth will be introduced to theological concepts and the application of these concepts to everyday life. They will learn about the work of the Church as a catalyst for helping people experience God's love, be encouraged to consider how God is calling them to live as witnesses to the faith, and to consider becoming leaders in the Church.

"This grant has great potential to benefit these three Salisbury educational institutions as they partner to offer a program that will address the tremendous need among today's youth to learn basic theological concepts, to become more connected to the Church, and to consider the possibility of preparing for leadership in the Church in the future," Clapp says.

Clapp predicts that the "DISCOVER" initiative can also serve as a great recruiting tool for future students. Participants will spend one day in Salisbury visiting the three campuses (Catawba, Livingstone and Hood) and learning about educational and vocational opportunities. Students in the program will come from many different denominations and faith backgrounds and from all over the Southeast. More visibility and promotion for the three institutions will occur as pastors and church leaders help promote the program.

Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Lilly Endowment, has noted that the colleges and universities participating in Youth Theology Institute Initiatives "have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges."   

The "DISCOVER" program will be under the auspices of the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values at Catawba and the week-long sessions will take place at the Black Lake Retreat Center in Asheboro, a facility that Catawba leases from the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ.

"DISCOVER" applications will be accepted from youth of all religious denominations and affiliations and youth who are not part of a congregation also are welcome to submit an application. Application forms may be requested from the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values at Catawba by e-mailing Ms. Penny Rice at or calling (704) 637-4488.

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