At a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 16, LCU announced the launch of Vocati: A Missional Youth Theology Institute, made possible by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment.
Over the next five years, the grant of $596,000 from the Lilly Endowment will allow LCU to foster spiritual discipline, theological engagement, and transformative experiences for high school students in the South Plains area through the Vocati Institute.
The word “Vocati,” meaning “called” in Latin, is representative of the university’s mission and a Biblical calling. Dr. Steven Bonner will serve as director of the Vocati Institute. Additionally, JoAnn Long will act as Assessment and Evaluation Director, Mark Wiebe will be the Theological Program Adviser, and Jocelyn Wiebe will serve as the Program Development and Implementation Advisor.
“The Vocati Institute will provide the Youth and Family Ministry Program a significant opportunity to journey with high school students in an intentional, interactive learning community that seeks to form their minds, hearts, and hands for compassionate, informed Christian leadership through theological exploration, spiritual discernment, and cultural engagement,” said Bonner.
Vocati will partner with a number of local area churches, including South Plains Church of Christ, Quaker Avenue Church of Christ, Raintree Christian Church, and First Christian Church, to provide insight, critique, and aid in the development of the institute. Additional partners include the LCU Graduate School of Theology and Lubbock Youth Leadership Academy.
The year-long program will begin with a one week residency at the Pine Springs Retreat in New Mexico to establish a daily theological routine for participants. Afterwards, the program will transition to an online component to build on their experiences from the residency. Students will also be expected to work throughout the year to produce a missional project for their community.
The Vocati Institute will be accepting nominations and applications in Feb. 2016. The first cohort of nominated high school students will begin in Aug. 2016.