Connecting With Hope Innovation Hub

Lilly Endowment Incorporated has generously awarded a $1.5 million dollar grant in support of innovative ministry in congregations with Black millennials. The proposal for the 5-year grant was submitted last Fall through the office of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy (YHBA) at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). The grant, one of twelve awarded, is entitled, Connecting With Hope Innovation Hub.
The purpose of this Hub is to assist an interdenominational group of twenty-four (24) congregations of various sizes, in urban/suburban/small-town locales in implementing new innovative ministry approaches with young adults ages 23-29. An initial group of thirteen churches has begun the process in the first year and will continue over a five year period. This group will recommend another set of congregations whom they will agree to become peer mentors in the third year. The entire group will further learn together and share ideas and resources over the remaining two years in ways that point to continued processes of the Hub beyond five years.


Young adults who are graduates of the Atlanta based Youth Hope-Builders Academy and the Ghana, Africa-based YHBA youth/young adult ministry initiative will serve as mentoring resources. The ITC Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Degree program cohort on “Discontinued Youth and Public Response” will also serve as a mentoring resource. The mentoring resources will enhance perspectives on the nature, needs, challenges and hopes of Black young adults evolving from Hub learnings and ministry practices.

Guidelines were established for the Connecting With Hope Innovation Hub and the process for identifying participating churches ensued. Leaders from churches within a 150 mile radius of Atlanta were invited to attend the February 13, 2017 meeting of interest. A complete program overview was presented by ITC Hub leaders, Dr. Anne E. Streaty Wimberly, Co-director, Minister Pamela A. Perkins, Co-Director and Dr. Casina Washington, Associate Director. Church leaders in attendance received application materials and were notified of program requirements and the deadline for submitting applications.
ITC Hub leaders and YHBA graduate Mr. Markell Magsby attended the March 19-21, 2017 Young Adult Initiative Consultation in Indianapolis, Indiana, sponsored by Lilly Endowment, Incorporated. The meeting provided opportunities to meet the leadership from eleven (11) other national innovation Hubs, receive insights from dynamic presenters on assisting congregational leadership within the selected hubs and offered useful approaches for establishing peer relationships and resource sharing.


Upon review of all applications by the ITC Hub leadership team, the group of thirteen (13) churches was selected to participate in the first round of the program. As required, each church submitted the names of their three member Hub leadership team, requiring the inclusion of at least one millennial.

The leadership teams from each Hub were required to attend the Friday, March 31, 2017 and Saturday, April 1, 2017 Spring Leadership Retreat. Forty-nine leaders were in attendance. The two-day event was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, in East Point, Georgia.