Emory Report
July 20, 2009
Volume 61, Number 35


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July 20, 2009
Youth get immersed in the spirit of service

By Laurel hanna

The Youth Theological Initiative (YTI) 2009 Summer Academy at Candler School of Theology drew to a close July 18, ending a three-week intensive, residential program on the Emory campus. Forty-five rising high school seniors came to the academy to learn to analyze and address public issues from Christian theological perspectives and to build a “covenant community” committed to open-minded and honest dialogue and mutual support. In addition to participating in classes, students engaged in ecumenical worship, attended workshops with members of Candler’s faculty, and volunteered at social service sites around Atlanta.

One highlight of the program was the Interfaith Day of Youth Service, which brought together youth from YTI and local Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faith groups to participate in interfaith dialogue and service. Held this year on July 13, the service project was to sort and pack books at the local warehouse for the nonprofit organization Books for Africa, the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent. After working together in this service project, the youth then headed back to the Emory campus to participate in open, respectful interfaith dialogue.

The 2009 academy also featured a special program exploring ethical issues, including ecology and environmental justice; racial justice and civil rights; and migration, immigration and labor. The program included visits to sites in Atlanta that place the issues in a broader context and volunteering with local organizations and Christian communities that are responding meaningfully to these challenges today.