Sponsoring Institution: SMU Perkins School of Theology
Youth Theology Program: Faith Calls: Theological Programs for Young People (Faith Calls Mountain Academy)
Contact: Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education, Faith Calls – firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith Calls Mountain Academy builds upon the existing principles that continue to guide the SMU Perkins Faith Calls Academy for over a decade.
The primary goal of the Summer Academy is to offer high school youth a comprehensive program of critical theological, Biblical, and spiritual inquiry. The summer academy curriculum is designed to offer youth a combination of intensive theological and Biblical study, along with guided practical experiences of learning about themselves, and the world around them.
Within a safe, affirming, and liberating space that nurtures the voices of emerging young leaders, the program aims to:
- Invite youth to develop and sharpen skills for theological interpretation and critical discourse.
- Provide a hermeneutical lens of Scripture using eight mountains of God from the Bible where God communicates powerfully to people.
- Encourage youth to draw upon their Christian theological traditions to acknowledge the present blessings and challenges of their faith communities and explore future possibilities.
- Cultivate a safe, affirming community where youth can explore and develop practices for nurturing their spirituality and faith formation.
- Challenge youth to engage in social practice as agents of hope, reconciliation, and justice.
- Engage youth in experiences where they can critically reflect on the needs of people in various social contexts as well as analyze institutional and systemic power dynamics.
- Offer youth a glimpse at vocational possibilities within the context of ministry and faith-based settings.
Title/Theme of Practice: Developing and galvanizing accountability and respect towards mutual influence in Christian community through participation in team adventure activities as a key component of learning
The schedule of Faith Calls Mountain Academy allows for learning on four intentional layers: 1) traditional classroom setting, 2) thematic team adventure activities, 3) guided spiritual practices (worship and disciplines), and 4) covenant groups. While each of these strengthens and influences the others, it is the time spent in team adventure activities that will concretize the accountability and respect necessary for overall successful learning. The addition of intentional, outdoor, team adventure activities is a unique feature to Mountain Academy.
Faith Calls Mountain Academy youth will experience four different team adventure activities: rock climbing, rappelling, whitewater rafting, and hiking. Each activity will happen under the backdrop of the breathtaking San Juan Mountains outside of Durango, Colorado. Christian leaders with professional training from Compass Wilderness Ministries will be leading these activities. Adventure activities are intentionally scheduled in the afternoon, between classroom time and worship/covenant group time. Alongside their participation in these physical, adventure activities, youth will be studying the Biblical, theological, spiritual, and social justice aspects of eight selected mountains of God from the Scriptural narrative (Moriah, Nebo, Sinai, Carmel, Zion, Tabor, Golgotha, and Olivet) in a tradition academic setting. The adventure activities provide shared “play” experiences that also serve as a framework for these studies. Covenant groups will allow youth to deepen community as they process what they are learning in a traditional setting up against these parabolic, physical experiences. Directed spiritual practice in worship will allow opportunities for leadership and sharing.
Strategy of Practice
New – Experiencing a new activity together builds trust and mutual respect.
Interdependence – Youth begin to see and acknowledge gifts and abilities in each other as they experience physical activities that require teamwork and different strengths.
Risk – Overcoming fears together will build quick accountability within the community.
Creation – Activities will be experienced in a unique setting that focuses senses on God’s creation.
Theme – The theme of mountains revealed in every educational component will allow the practice to be thread the spiritual, cognitive, and physical experience of the academy.
Effectiveness of the Practice
I believe that the inclusion of outdoor, team adventure activities to Faith Calls Theological Youth Academy will both accelerate and intensify peer accountability and respect towards mutual influence in Christian community.
Mountain Academy will begin June 2017 and will be evaluated through specific questions from student evaluations, mentor evaluations, as well as from research oversight from leaders formerly involved in Faith Calls Academy development.