Innovation Grant To Focus On Ethics Exploration Among Teens

Dr. Krista E. Hughes, Newberry College associate professor of Religion and director of the Muller Center at Newberry College, has received a $3,500 Leadership Education at Duke Divinity (LEDD) Innovation Grant for her project, “Amplifying Youth Voices in the Pulpit and the Public Square.”

The project is intended to fund professional development workshops for adult youth leaders along with the design of a web-based hub where teens and young adults can share their perspectives on pressing ethical questions. Hughes received the grant through her participation in Duke University Divinity School’s Foundations of Christian Leadership program held in Washington, D.C., in May and August 2018.

“Our project is two-tiered,” Hughes said. “We intend to host conversations and encourage resource-sharing among adult youth leaders, and to create a platform where young adults can share their ideas: through writing, podcasts, videos … really any creative form. We cannot wait to see what emerges.”

Hughes and Ian Carr McPherson, co-director of Called to the Common Good, the College’s summer High School Youth Theology Institute, envision the project as an extension of the Institute, which equips youth to connect faith, ethics and civic commitment.

“Youth are hungry for opportunities to explore issues of moral concern, such as gun violence, misunderstanding and hatred in our society, the dark side of social media,” said McPherson. “Churches need to do a better job of listening to the questions raised by youth as well as the wisdom they have about solutions.”

Many youth ministers agree, but they are unsure how to incorporate civic formation into faith formation, and existing resources are few, Hughes said. The innovation grant will be used to help fill that gap, especially in the Southeast region.

To this end, the Muller Center will host three Prophetic Youth Ministry summits on Jan. 24, in Chapel Hill, N.C.; Feb. 5, in Greenville, S.C.; and Feb. 7, in Charleston, S.C. The events are free, but registration is required. To register for a summit, or for more information, visit, or email The web-based component of the project will launch in spring 2019.

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