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December 8, 2016 – Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology has received a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for its Office of Vocation & Ministry to establish the Telos Project, an initiative that will assist Orthodox Christian parishes in developing new ministries with young adults ages 23-29 over a five-year period.
HCHC is among a select cohort of twelve colleges and seminaries that are participating in five-year Lilly Endowment young adult initiative.
The Telos Project is rooted in an awareness that today’s young adults face many social challenges that cause them to yearn for authentic Christian experiences to nourish and support their spiritual and religious lives. HCHC is thrilled by this extraordinary opportunity to learn from and energize congregations as they think deeply about the religious lives of young adults.
Drawing on the biblical concept of the Greek word, telos, or end goal, this project will engage both young adults and whole congregations in focusing on their own end goals, as people and as communities. What is the reason for faith and religion? What is the reason for our participation in the life of a parish? And for congregations—what is the end goal of why a congregation exists? What are our best hopes for our young adults as we reflect on this goal?
This grant gives HCHC the remarkable opportunity to gather clergy, lay, and young adult leaders from Orthodox parishes across the country to research, design, and collaborate on a topic of practical ministry. In March 2017, parishes will be invited to apply to join the Telos Project learning hub; fourteen parishes will be selected to become the focus of the five-year initiative. The grant provides funding for teams from selected parishes to attend annual learning hub consultations in Boston and assist with the resources they need to implement their work. Grant funding will also help communities track and evaluate their learning, and will feed this information back to HCHC faculty who will incorporate the findings into their coursework and training of future clergy and lay leaders. The establishment of a website and e-newsletter for the project will disseminate learning more broadly, so that the impact can stretch well beyond the fourteen parishes involved.
This innovative opportunity will be, in the words of Rev. Fr. Christopher Metropulos, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, “a beacon of outreach and learning for our school.” Dr. Demetrios S. Katos, Dean of Hellenic College, noted that this initiative allows HCHC to “discover, create, or establish effective models of young adult engagement, service, and leadership in parishes.”
The project evolves out of the deep interest in the Office of Vocation & Ministry in the spiritual and religious lives of the alumni of their CrossRoad Summer Institute, many of whom have expressed that the lessons they learned as teenagers at CrossRoad are now even more relevant as they try to navigate their twenties. As a result of the Telos Project, our Orthodox parishes should expect a new cadre of young adults who have an awakened passion for Christ and His Church. Dr. James Skedros, Dean of the School of Theology remarked how, “This grant promises to transform our institution as dramatically as did the Lilly Endowment grant for the Theological Exploration of Vocation.” Questions on the Telos Project should be directed to Dr. Ann Bezzerides, Director, Office of Vocation & Ministry, at firstname.lastname@example.org.