SYM Mini-Grants

The John Templeton Foundation-funded grant, Science for Youth Ministry, announces the winners of our $5,000 mini-grants for those teaching youth ministry classes at the college or seminary level. These mini-grants are for seeding the exploration faith and sciences within youth ministry. An overview of the submission process follows the list of awardees.

Congratulations to:

Dean Blevins, Nazarene Theological Seminary
Amanda Drury, Indiana Wesleyan University
Justin Forbes, Flagler College
Russell Haitch, Bethany Theological Seminary
Karen Jones, Huntington University
Jason Lief, Northwestern College
Mindy Makant, Lenoir-Rhyne University
Erin Raffety, Princeton Theological Seminary
Cahleen Shrier, Azuza Pacific University
Walter Surdacki, Lipscomb University


Why did we do this?

The major objective of the SYM grant is to help catalyze a discussion in protestant youth ministries between faith and science. We believe that the work of youth ministry professors (and others teaching youth ministry) is an essential way of deepening and broadening this conversation. Therefore, these mini-grants are to help motivate professors to engage the faith and science conversation in their classrooms and degree programs.


SYM received applications, evaluated them, and chose ten $5,000 recipients.

The SYM grant was designed particularly to assist professors in offering a new course on science and youth ministry, or to shift portions of an existing class in this direction. SYM is also interested in how a youth ministry professor might front issues of the natural sciences with their students. For example, a professor might use the funding to bring in a panel of pastors, biology professors and high school science teachers to discuss the intersection between faith and evolution and what a youth pastor needs to know about the subject to help her young people. In a similar vein, the professor might use the funds to do a literature review of high school textbooks, seeing how its presumption of a completely material universe might be addressed by a youth ministry confirmation program. Using this literature review the professor might create two lectures to present this information and its implication to his/her students. The mini-grant funds might also seek for new pedagogical ways to help youth workers discuss evolution with young people and their parents. In the end, SYM is seeking to fund specific projects directly impacting classrooms.

Please note: The John Templeton Foundation funds a wide range of science engagement but does not support courses in bioethics or those engaging issues such as sustainability, environmental ethics or creation care.


  • Professor or adjunct professor at an ATS seminary or accredited college
  • Teaching a specific class on youth ministry (preferably “youth ministry” should be in the title, but this could also, for example, be a pastoral care class where issue of young people are considered).


Selection Criteria:

Applications will be judged by a Review Committee



  • Clear description and well-defined science focus
  • Measurable learning goals and objectives
  • Ministry implications of the course
  • Statement of interest in the subject matter of the course by the instructor and his/her intended plan for course preparation
  • Statement of interest in this course at this time for this seminary or college constituency
  • Potential for long-term engagement (how will this work continue after the use of the funds)
  • Three page concluding evaluation with reflection on learning objectives