Press Release

High School Students Invited to Explore Their Faith Journeys

March 6, 2017 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan will host its first EXPLORE Institute in June for eligible Ohio high school students. Applications are being accepted now for the six-day summer program. (Photo by Brad Ward)

Ohio Wesleyan Accepting Applications through April 3 for New Youth Theology Institute 

DELAWARE, Ohio – Rising high school juniors and seniors throughout Ohio are invited to apply for enrollment in Ohio Wesleyan University’s new EXPLORE Institute. The six-day summer program will enable Protestant and Catholic students to examine their faith journeys and God’s calling for their lives from both academic and spiritual perspectives. 

The EXPLORE Institute was created with support from a four-year, $600,000 grant from the Indiana-based Lilly Endowment Inc. This year’s inaugural program, set for June 12-17, will accept 32 rising high school juniors and seniors from all around the state. Applications are due on or before April 3 and are available online at

“We are excited to be able to help young people EXPLORE their faith and future through this new program,” said Mary Jeffries, an associate chaplain at Ohio Wesleyan and dean of the new institute. “It is our hope that this experience will deepen the participants’ understanding of theology and its relationship to service and vocational discernment.” 

The program will involve learning from sacred scripture, theology, and traditions of the Catholic and Protestant faiths, Jeffries said, with class topics including:

  • Scriptural Perspective on Calling from the Epistle of James.
  • Theology of Calling from a Historical and Global Perspective.
  • Theology of Calling, Vocation, and Service.
  • Theology of Ecology.

Additional programs will examine being called to serve:

  • Society’s Basic Need – Food.
  • Society’s Basic Need – Shelter.
  • Society’s Most Vulnerable.
  • God’s Creations – Theology of Ecology.

In addition to Jeffries, Ohio Wesleyan’s EXPLORE Institute will be led by university Chaplain Jon Powers (program director) and involve Department of Religion professors Blake Michael, Ph.D., and David Eastman, Ph.D., as well as a Catholic priest and select OWU staff. In addition, eight Ohio Wesleyan students will be chosen each summer to serve as student leader interns for the program, helping to further their own interests in global servant-leadership. 

The initiative also will involve community partners including the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Coalition for Christian Outreach, Asbury United Methodist Church, Columbus Catholic Diocese, and area service providers. 

The residential program will be held on Ohio Wesleyan’s 200-acre campus located centrally in the City of Delaware. For more information, including tuition costs and scholarship opportunities, visit or email

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at