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Program Overview

Program Overview

The ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative is a pre-college program that emphasizes experiential learning both in and outside of the classroom. This year, high school students have the opportunity to earn three hours of college credit for completing ENGAGE. 

Together students will explore the contemporary call to racial justice and healing, the histories of both the church and the U.S. Civil Rights movement, and what it means to live a life of Christian leadership and service. Supported by Lilly Endowment Inc, ENGAGE seeks to develop cultural competencies, compassion, and empathy in young people by means of shared narratives, conflict transformation skills, active listening, and constructive dialogue.

Students will spend 7 days studying with professors in Nashville and an additional 2-3 days on a "Bus Ride to Justice" tour of Alabama. Various sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail will be part of students' experiential and interactive learning. Stops may include: 

  • The 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham
  • Brown Chapel AME Church, Selma
  • Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma
  • The Equal Justice Initiative's Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
  • Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, Montgomery
  • The Tuskegee History Center, Tuskegee
  • Plus the chance to hear from legendary attorney and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Dr. Fred D. Gray
  • The National Museum of African-American Music, Nashville
  • Fisk University's Jubilee Hall and Memorial Chapel, Nashville

Each stop on the Civil Rights trail immerses students, counselors, and faculty in intergenerational conversations rooted in that past struggle and challenges learners to think about the work that remains in our society. One former participant writes: “I was unprepared for the depth of emotional response, personal soul-searching and corporate reflection which this field trip invited [us] to enter into.”


This particular model of learning moves participants to consider their own responses to racial injustice as they stand in the physical spaces of past events and allow the voices and faces of history to inform and frame their actions for the future. The field trips prompt students to ask thoughtful, theological questions concerning the mistreatment of all oppressed peoples, using cross-cultural dialogue and intergenerational, non-violent engagement.

Our Faculty

Our Faculty

Meet some of the key faculty in the ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative.

Dr. Raymond Carr, Ph.D.


Raymond Carr headshot

Dr. Raymond Carr (PhD) is a public theologian with international teaching experience. Dr. Carr currently serves as a visiting scholar/professor at Harvard Divinity School and as a research associate and director of the “Codex Charles H. Long Papers Project” at Harvard University. Dr. Carr is a veteran of the United States Air Force; was a classroom professor of Theology and Ethics at Pepperdine University from 2012-2019; and has served as a visiting professor in Heidelberg, Germany, Lausanne, Switzerland, and Shanghai, China. Dr. Carr earned his Ph.D. in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at Graduate Theological Union in California (2012). His publications include “Merton and Barth in Dialogue on Faith and Understanding: A Hermeneutics of Freedom and Ambiguity;” “Fired in the Crucible of Oppression: Toward a Theology of Spiritual Freedom;” and “Wade in the Water Children: Charles Long, Karl Barth and the (Re)Imagination of Matter,” in American Religion 2:2 (Spring 2021). He has been with the ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative since its inception in 2017.

Dr. Claire Davidson Frederick


Claire Davidson Frederick headshot

Dr. Claire Davidson Frederick is a Faculty Fellow in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University and serves as Program Director for the ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative. She oversees elements of planning and recruitment; coordinates course curriculum and field trips; and provides input regarding theological and academic content for the program. Frederick is a Nashville native who spent 15 years in the country music industry as a published singer/songwriter before going into ministry full time. She is a graduate of Rutgers University (B.A.), the Hazelip School of Theology at Lipscomb University (M.Div.), and recently received her Doctor of Ministry degree with honors from McCormick Theological Seminary. Her project entitled “Gathered with the Saints: Reimagining Worship in the Age of Coronavirus” won the John Randall Hunt Prize for Outstanding D.Min. Thesis and Academic Record. She teaches undergraduate Bible courses and worship ministry at Lipscomb and facilitated two songwriting workshops at the Tennessee Prison for Women as part of the Lipscomb LIFE Program. She is a church planter and ministry professional with 20 years of experience leading youth camps, family ministries, retreats, and worship.

Dr. Jacquelynn Day White

Jacquelynn Day White headshot

Dr. Jacquelynn Day White serves as adjunct faculty in both the College of Professional Studies and in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University. She earned her B.S. in Nursing from the University of South Alabama and received both her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Hazelip School of Theology at Lipscomb. White teaches undergraduate courses, including Luke/Acts, Spiritual Disciplines, The Story of Israel, and The Story of Jesus. She also serves as teaching faculty and Camp Nurse for the ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative. A native of Tennessee, she currently works as a Registered Nurse in various Psychiatric settings and in Community Health Nursing. She and her husband Robert have three children and reside in Spring Hill, Tennessee. They are members of the Maury Hills Church family.

Dr. Richard T. Hughes


Richard T. Hughes headshot

Dr. Richard T. Hughes has worked at the intersection of religion and American culture over the course of a 45-year career, specializing in religion and American identity, religion and race in America, religion and American higher education, and the role of Christian primitivism in American life. His 17 published books include Myths America Lives By (University of Illinois Press), Christian America and the Kingdom of God (University of Illinois Press), Reviving the Ancient Faith: the Story of Churches of Christ in America (ACU Press), and How Christian Faith can Sustain the Life of the Mind (Eerdmans). Having taught at Pepperdine University, Southwest Missouri State University, Abilene Christian University and Messiah College, Dr. Hughes currently serves as scholar-in-residence in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Archandria “Kandi” Owens

Archandria “Kandi” Owens headshot


Visiting professor Dr. Archandria Owens is an experienced educator and licensed psychologist. She currently serves as the Associate Director of the Counseling Center at Rhodes College in Memphis. Dr. Owens treats students and clients with a variety of presenting concerns, including depression, anxiety, identity development, and relationship issues. Her specialties include working with clients experiencing racial trauma, grief and loss. Dr. Owens is also the founder of Healing Black Narratives, an initiative begun on Instagram that makes more accessible the work that she does inside the therapy room. Her commitment to issues of diversity and multiculturalism are present in her approach to clinical concerns and in her work as a diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer. She is a member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Memphis Area Psychological Association. She earned a BA in Psychology at Texas Tech University; an MA in Clinical Psychology at University of Detroit-Mercy; and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Memphis.


Dr. Learotha Williams Jr.


Dr. Learotha Williams, Jr. (PhD) is a scholar of African American, Civil War, Reconstruction, and Public History at Tennessee State University. Dr. Williams has worked as a Historic Sites Specialist for the State of Florida, acted as coordinator for the African American Studies Program at Armstrong Atlantic State University, and served as trustee of the Historic Savannah Foundation in Savannah, Georgia. He also spearheads the North Nashville Heritage Project, an effort that seeks to encourage a greater understanding of the history of North Nashville, including but not limited to Jefferson Street and its historic relationship to the greater Nashville community.  He will be leading ENGAGE students on their historic tours of Nashville and Alabama this summer. 

Tuition & Fees

Tuition & Fees

We want you to spend part of your summer with us! That's why we cover the cost of tuition for students accepted into the ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative. By attending ENGAGE, you'll be saving $3,300 for a class that you would otherwise take during the regular school year. A $1,200 program fee to cover activities, meals, field trips, and lodging is the only expense for ENGAGE students and their families. 

However, do not let the cost deter you from applying. Financial aid is available for 2024 and will be offered based on need and merit. Click here to apply for financial aid. We also encourage students' home congregations and/or other patrons to sponsor students' participation in the program by paying the camp fee. Please reach out to your program director for more information. 

A $100 deposit is due by May 19, 2024 and holds your reservation in the program. The remaining balance will be due by June 1, 2024.

Past ENGAGE Trips

students crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Group photo

Birmingham, Alabama

Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma AL

Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, AL

ENGAGE at Fisk University Memorial Chapel

ENGAGE at Fisk University Memorial Chapel

Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, AL

Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, AL

National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery

National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL

Odessa Settles performing with ENGAGE participants

Odessa Settles performing with ENGAGE participants

The Oaks (Booker T. Washington home at Tuskegee University)

The Oaks (Booker T. Washington home at Tuskegee University)

Our Faculty

  • Claire Frederick headshot

    Claire Davidson

    Program Director of HS Youth Theology Institute

    Claire Davidson Frederick teaches in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University and serves as Program Director for the ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative, a public theology and racial...

    Meet Claire Davidson
  • Richard Hughes headshot

    Richard Hughes

    Scholar in Residence

    The scholarly interests of Richard Hughes, the Center's Scholar in Residence, have ranged from religion and race in America, to religion and American self-understanding, to religion and American higher education,...

    Meet Richard Hughes