Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650


July 9, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology has received a $1.4 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to establish a leadership development program for high school youth to engage in theological study and inquiry.

Designed for youth in the Southwest who have experienced disadvantages through their racial minority status or socioeconomic backgrounds, the Perkins Youth School of Theology will connect youth who are involved in community service with clergy mentors, as well as host an annual three-week summer academy and sponsor scholarly research on youth and the church.

“The Lilly initiative will allow Perkins to seek out youth hungry for a hospitable place to talk about God, their community and their call to transform inequity in our society,” said Dr. Evelyn L. Parker, assistant professor of Christian Education.

The SMU gift is one of 16 new programs funded by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. in an effort to attract talented young people to the ministry as a vocation. Over the past decade, 33 other schools have received implementation grants. Lilly Endowment has invested a total of $57.3 million in the initiative now involving 49 schools.

“The ministry is a demanding and exciting profession, and it takes special people with many skills to be successful,” said Craig Dykstra, Lilly Endowment vice president for religion. “We think young people at pivotal points in their lives should be aware of the tremendous rewards of pastoral ministry. It is a most gratifying and fulfilling vocation.”

The Perkins School of Theology was founded in 1915 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, now The United Methodist Church, as one of the original schools of Southern Methodist University. Offering a variety of degree programs, it remains one of the few university-related theological schools in the nation. For more information, call 1-888-THEOLOGY or visit the website at