Youth Theological Initiative

Youth Theological Initiative

The Youth Theological Initiative (YTI) is a center of research and teaching dedicated to the theological education of youth for the benefit of church and society. The program strives to:

  • foster recognition among youth and adults of the theological abilities of youth
  • equip youth to engage in theological reflection and to bring theology into action for the betterment of church and society
  • promote a vision of youth ministry that takes the theological abilities and questions of youth seriously
  • equip lay and ordained youth leaders to engage in innovative forms of youth ministry

YTI hosts workshops, trips, and residential programs for rising high school students that help young women and men engage in faithful and critical theological reflection on social and public issues. The research arm of YTI studies the theological perspectives and practices of adolescents, practices of youth ministry, and theological pedagogies. YTI offers training in youth ministry to lay and ordained youth leaders through partnerships with regional and national denominational judicatories, conferences for scholars and practitioners, and courses at Candler School of Theology.

YTI is funded by the Frank Sherman Fund for the Ministry of the Church and Society, individual donors, and other foundations. For further information, contact the director, Beth Corrie, at 404-727-2917 or or visit

YTI partners with Candler's Religious Education Program to offer a certificate in ministries with youth for MDiv, MRL and MTS students. Many students from Candler and Emory's Graduate Division of Religion work with YTI on research, which explores the theological perspectives and practices of youth and young adults. Others work with YTI's annual Summer Academy, an intensive, residential program of justice-seeking theological education for high school students. Applications for summer staff positions are accepted each fall; contact the YTI office for more information.

In addition to providing outstanding opportunities in youth ministry education at Candler, YTI support the work of denominations, regional judicatories and congregations through its Youth Ministry Education programs, working to enhance the practices of youth ministry in local congregations. For more information email Beth Corrie, Director or call 404.712.4160.

What are young people thinking about God and God’s relationship to the world? How can adults help them reflect faithfully upon the world, their lives, and the ways they might identify and use their gifts for the benefit of the world? Since its beginning in 1993, YTI has conducted research into the theological perspectives of youth, research that reveals a better understanding of young people and how to work with them in ways that can enable them to live more fully into their gifts and commitments. Out of this research comes the Youth Ministry Alternatives, a YTI-sponsored book series published through Pilgrim Press.
Additional works based on YTI research have also been published recently through Wipf and Stock.

Many of these books can be purchased at a discounted rate from YTI. Email us for details.

The YTI Summer Academy gathers 40 rising high school juniors and seniors from across the country and around the world to Emory University for a three-week experience in Christian theological education.

How to Apply

Applicants should have a strong academic record, curiosity about the relationship between theology and public issues and a commitment to serving the public good through reflection and action.

YTI seeks theologically curious youth from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, denominational and religious backgrounds. Youth who have not been formed by specific faith traditions are welcome.  

Scholarships are available!

The application requirements include several short essays, two recommendations and a high school transcript.

For more information, visit the Summer Academy web page or sign up for the mailing list.

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