Seminary launches 787 Collective
Posted 02/28/2017 02:36PM



 Austin Seminary Uses Lilly Grant to Launch 787 Collective

AUSTIN, Texas (February 28, 2017)—Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has received a $1.49 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.—part of a $19.4 million Young Adult Ministries Initiative, a national program for helping churches create innovative ministries and engage young adults.

Today, Austin Seminary launches 787 Collective, a project working with local churches to create a community of support for Austin’s twenty-somethings.

Melissa Wiginton, vice president for Education Beyond the Walls, said, “Very few people in their 20s fit the patterns and expectations of traditional congregational life. But we believe God is shining within the lives and passions of twenty-somethings. Our grounding assumption is that if churches were to give up an agenda of recruiting members and rather befriend and support twenty-somethings, they might discover new, innovative ways to mediate the faith, hope, and love found in life with God.”
The lives and passions of Austin twenty-somethings are at the heart of the work. Over the next four months the collective is producing five personal storytelling events that will present live music, visual art, and true stories from six different young adult populations within Austin: artists, Latino/a immigrants, veterans, environmental activists, and refugees. These personal storytelling events will be held at various locations around Austin (Spiderhouse Ballroom, Trinity Street Theatre, Austin Seminary, and churches.) Churches will have an opportunity to hear true, first-hand experiences of the passion and struggles of young adults. Following these storytelling events, congregations will be resourced to discern how they are called to respond to the lives of young people. A collective of twenty local churches will be gathered to spend three years innovating new forms of Christian community, service and ministry with young adults. Congregations that demonstrate readiness for risk and deep change will be eligible for grants to fund innovation; more than one-third of the Lilly Endowment funds are earmarked for grants to congregations.

“Congregations can easily slip into old practices of ministry that are unhelpful or even push away young adults rather than engage them and draw them into ministry and service opportunities,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. "A significant part of this work will focus on helping congregational leaders understand young adulthood today and the changing contexts that shape what young adults value and expect.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Its religion grant making is primarily focused on initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of Christian ministry in American congregations.


Founded in 1902, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is an institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership. For more information and ways to support Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, visit

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