Bethel’s Youth Theology Institute continues to grow thanks to second Lilly Endowment Inc. grant.

The Youth Theology Institute has been given additional financial support to continue its effort in creating space for high schoolers to grow as truth seekers and world-changers. The program has been a collaborative effort across the university and provides a pipeline into the Bethel undergraduate experience.

By Anna Bernin '18, contributing writer

January 14, 2021 | 1 p.m.

Professor Peggy Kendall teaches high school students that attended Living the Questions in 2019.

Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Peggy Kendall teaches high school students who attended Living the Questions in 2019.

With the ongoing support from Lilly Endowment Inc., Living the Questions, Bethel’s Youth Theology Institute, has been able to provide a lasting impact on high school students. Initially, Lilly Endowment Inc. invested $484,852 in the program, but they recently responded with an additional generous $242,425 grant to further expand the impact.

The Youth Theology Institute equips high school students to grow as truth-seekers and world changers through dialogue, reflection, and service. Through Living the Questions, the program’s 10-month leadership experience, students are supported with individual spiritual mentorship to help them walk out their faith. After the program, students are encouraged to continue their faith journey by attending Bethel. As of today, Bethel has awarded $20,000 in scholarships to 10 students who have enrolled after participating in Living the Questions.

“Through Living the Questions, we seek to challenge students to consider how to navigate the questions that arise at the intersection of faith and culturally relevant topics like justice, science, and media,” Dr. Katie Friesen Smith says, director of the program.

Students who have participated in the program have expressed its impact. “It challenges you to think more about your faith and how you can apply it to your life in practical ways,” one student said after completing the summer program.

Bethel’s Youth Theology Institute continues to grow and reach more students, supporting the spiritual lives of high school students and providing current Bethel students opportunities to serve local churches. This fits into President Ross Allen’s vision for Bethel to “articulate and live out its faith.” Receiving the grant has been a collaborative effort across the university through in-kind support and matching funds. Several offices were involved: the Office of Academic Affairs, University Advancement, Christian Formation and Church Relations, Admissions, Bethel Seminary, individual donors, and the Bethel University Foundation.

Attend Living the Questions. 

This year’s theme is science and faith and will take place July 11-17, 2021. If you know a high school student who is interested in exploring their faith, encourage them to attend the program. If you have any questions, feel free to email 

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