Baylor’s Truett Seminary Receives a $600,000 Grant to Establish Youth Spirituality and Sports Institute

Jan. 5, 2016

WACO, Texas (Jan. 5, 2016) — Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary has received a $600,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the Youth Spirituality and Sports Institute: Running the Race Well (RRW).

This new institute at Baylor is part of Lilly Endowment’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore their religious beliefs and their concerns about contemporary challenges by studying theology and examining how faith calls them to lives of service.

Truett Seminary is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative, located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. More than 22,000 young people have participated in these youth theology programs at seminaries, universities and colleges, such as Calvin Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Interdenominational Theological Center, Perkins School of Theology (SMU), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and University of Notre Dame.

Truett Seminary’s Running the Race Well (RRW) will provide a unique annual experience within a diverse community, using an eight-day, mentor-guided setting that helps teenagers become discerning, vibrant leaders in sports, church and beyond. It will inspire the faith of serious-minded youth to the next level of leadership spiritually and morally in the contested culture of sports. Students preparing for their junior and senior years of high school will be eligible to apply. The first RRW sessions will be offered during the summer of 2018.

At the core of the RRW experience is a retreat in which participants will study and interact with RRW faculty, share meals, meet with their mentors, discuss moral and social issues specific to sports and life, learn leadership skills, practice spiritual disciplines, serve with Mission Waco and join in other immersion experiences and competitive sports-virtue labs.

Because this new institute will integrate research with practical application, RRW’s local and global partnerships include but are not limited to collaborators from Duke Divinity, Queen’s University (Canada), Regent’s Park College, Oxford University (UK), Seattle University, University of Gloucestershire (UK), Mission Waco, Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), the Vatican’s Office of Church and Sport, Waco local churches and various sports ministries and coaches.

John B. White, Ph.D., principal investigator and faculty director of RRW as well as director of Truett’s sports ministry/chaplaincy program, acknowledges that weaving together Christian convictions with Christian behavior in all walks of life is a perennial challenge.

“We want to help youth, parents, families, mentors, coaches and churches to bridge the gap between Christian belief and behavior in the sphere of sports — to impact the X’s and O’s of sports with a compelling vision coupled with application for why we do sports as Christians,” he said.

Todd Still, Ph.D., dean of Truett Seminary, agreed, saying, “I find the RRW Institute a fresh, innovative way to engage and to shape young people. If I were still a spiritually curious, athletically oriented youth, I would be thrilled to be a part of such an opportunity.”

Pastor Matt Snowden of First Baptist Waco (FBW) said that the church “actively engages in sports ministry like other churches, and we seek regular improvement. This level of theological engagement is truly exciting. RRW will help us equip young ministers.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, the Master of Theological Studies, or the Doctor of Ministry degrees that are centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and consistent with historic Baptist commitments to prepare persons to carry this gospel to the churches and the world. Within the M.Div. degree program, students can choose concentrations in Biblical Studies and Theology, Christian Education, Ministry Leadership, Missions and World Christianity, Worship Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Sports Ministry, and Youth/Family/Student Ministry. Truett Seminary also offers four Dual Degree programs – an M.Div./MSW and MTS/MSW through a partnership with Baylor’s School of Social Work, an M.Div./Master of Music through a partnership with the Baylor’s School of Music, an M.Div./MBA through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, and an M.Div./J.D. degree through a partnership with Baylor’s School of Law. Visit to learn more.


Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grant-making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

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