Project Leadership

The Theology of Joy and the Good Life project is led by an extraordinary group of scholars and religious leaders representing more than twenty institutions from around the globe.

 
Principal Investigator


Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He is author or editor of 20 books and over 70 scholarly articles, including Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1996), which received the 2002 Louisville Grawemeyer Award.



Senior Advisory Committee


Jürgen Moltmann is Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen. He is a former member of the Faith and Order Committee of the World Council of Churches and also the Robert W. Woodruff Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology at Candler School at Emory University. He is the author of Experiences of Joy: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology and also the winner of the 2000 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. 

Jonathan Sacks is the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at NYU, the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, and Professor of Law, Ethics, and the Bible at King’s College London. Previously, he served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. His publications include Celebrating Life: Finding Happiness in Unexpected Places and To Heal A Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility. 

Nicholas Wolterstorff is the Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Two of his most recent publications are Journey toward Justice and Justice in Love. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


N. T. Wright is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews. He was formerly the Bishop of Durham, having earlier held teaching positions at Oxford, Cambridge, and McGill Universities and church appointments in Lichfield and at Westminster Abbey. His publications include The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is and The Resurrection of the Son of God



Project Leadership Team


Mark Berner is the founder and president of Joy Consortium, an initiative funded by the John Templeton Foundation to bring joy into the mainstream of religious practice and academic inquiry. He has been an entrepreneur; hedge fund manager; attorney; and foundation trustee and advisor. 

Daniel Chua is Professor of Music and the Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His previous appointments include Director of Studies at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and Professor of Music Theory and Analysis at King’s College London. He has been the recipient of the Henry Fellowship at Harvard and the 2004 Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal. He is the author of Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning

Kenda Creasy Dean is the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also the coordinating pastor of Kingston United Methodist Church in New Jersey, and an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Her publications include Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church and Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church. 

Robert Emmons is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis and the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. His research focuses on gratitude and human flourishing. He has authored 4 books on the topic, including Thanks! and Gratitude Works! He is the recipient of multiple Templeton Foundation research grants


Michael Fishbane is the Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago, where he has served as Chair of its Committee on Jewish Studies. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research. In 2005, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Jewish Scholarship from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is the author of The Exegetical Imagination: On Jewish Thought and Theology

Jennifer Herdt is the Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Yale Divinity School. She is the author of Religion and Faction in Hume’s Moral Philosophy and Putting on Virtue: the Legacy of the Splendid Vices, together with many articles and book chapters on a host of subjects. She is currently working on a book manuscript on happiness, obligation, and Christian ethics.

Willie Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. He teaches in the areas of systematic theology, black church and cultural studies, and is an ordained Baptist minister. He is the author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, and also the winner of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. 


Charles Mathewes is the Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He has served as editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion and of the third edition of the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics. He is the Chair of the Committee on the Future of Christian Ethics by the Society of Christian Ethics. His most recent publications include The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times and Understanding Religious Ethics

Robert Roberts is Distinguished Professor of Ethics at Baylor University. He has been awarded research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and is currently a Senior Fellow in the Center for Theological Inquiry, in the inquiry into Religious Experience and Moral Identity. His publications include Emotions in the Moral Life (2013).


Andrew Root  is the Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He is most recently the author of Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross and Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.  He has also written The Relational Pastor as well as a four book series called A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry. In 2012, his book The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry (with Kenda Creasy Dean) received Christianity Today’s Award of Merit. 




Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing Advisory Board


Caroline Ainsworth is the Minister to Youth at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, Connecticut. She received a degree in Education from Northwestern University and for the past six years has served her home congregation and the larger New Canaan community, caring for over 250 youth.


Mark Berner is the founder and president of Joy Consortium, an initiative funded by the John Templeton Foundation to bring joy into the mainstream of religious practice and academic inquiry. He has been an entrepreneur; hedge fund manager; attorney; and foundation trustee and advisor.


Kenda Creasy Dean is the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also the coordinating pastor of Kingston United Methodist Church in New Jersey, and an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Her publications include Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church and Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church. 

Frederick Edie is Associate Professor of the Practice of Christian Education at Duke Divinity School. His research interests include exploring the relationships between Christian worship and Christian identity, creating rich contexts for the formation of Christians, and constructing “full-bodied” epistemologies. He is the author of Book, Bath, Table and Time: Christian Worship as Source and Resource for Youth Ministry

Mark Gornik is the director of City Seminary of New York. He has spent the last 25 years as a pastor, community developer, and researcher in African churches in NYC and beyond. He is the author of To Live in Peace: Biblical FaithThe Changing Inner City and Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York City, which won Christianity Today’s 2012 Book Award for Missions & Global Affairs. 

Pamela Ebstyne King is Associate Professor of Marital and Family Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is a co-author of The Reciprocating Self: A Theological Perspective of Development and co-editor of The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence.


Skip Masback is the Founding Director of the Youth Ministry Initiative, Managing Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, and Director of YCFC’s Adolescent Faith and Flourishing Program. He came to Yale after serving for 19 years as the Senior Pastor at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, Connecticut. 


Rodger Nishioka is the Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary. He focuses on equipping pastors to be teachers and leaders in the church’s educational ministry. He is particularly interested in building a congregation’s youth and young adult ministries. His publications include Sowing the Seeds and Rooted in Love.


David Rahn is the Senior Vice President and Chief Ministry Officer for Youth for Christ USA, an organization he has served since 1972. He also teaches in and directs the Graduate Program in Youth Ministry Leadership at Huntington University. Recent book publications include Evangelism Remixed: Empowering Students for Courageous and Contagious Faith and Symmetry: Fixing Broken Patterns for Kids in Crisis.

Andrew Root  is the Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He is most recently the author of Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross and Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.  He has also written The Relational Pastor as well as a four book series called A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry. In 2012, his book The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry (with Kenda Creasy Dean) received Christianity Today’s Award of Merit. 

David White is the C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and Professor in Methodist Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. His recent publications include Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit, and Vocation and Awakening Youth Discipleship in a Consumer Culture


Anne E. Streaty Wimberly is Professor Emerita of Christian Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center. She serves as the Executive Director of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy at ITC, a youth theology program funded by the Lilly Endowment. Her publications include In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black Church and Soul Stories: African American Christian Education

Almeda Wright is Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Yale Divinity School. Her research focuses on African American religion, adolescent spiritual development, and the intersections of religion and public life. She is ordained in the American Baptist Church. She is co-editor, with Mary Elizabeth Moore, of Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World, and has served as editor of an issue of Practical Matters Journal. 




Pastoral Advisory Committee


Lillian Daniel is a pastor, writer, and teacher, and has served as the Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is the author of When Spiritual But Not Religious Is Not Enough: Seeing God In Surprising Places, Even the Church


Adam Hamilton is the Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. He has authored 13 books and several small group studies on topics as diverse as forgiveness, simple living, love and marriage, morality, politics, God’s will, and world religions. His most recent publications include Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today and The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

Allen Hilton is the Teaching Minister at Wayzata Community Church, UCC, near Minneapolis, MN. He taught Bible at St. Mary’s College of California and New Testament at Yale Divinity School. He currently teaches 150-300 learners weekly in his “Bible for Dummies” class at WCC and lectures around the nation on Bible and church unity.


Otis Moss III is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL. He is a life member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, board member of the Christian Century Magazine, and Chaplain of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Conference. He is co-author, with his father, Otis Moss, Jr., of Preach!: The Power and Purpose Behind Our Praise

Rich Nathan has been serving as the Senior Pastor of Vineyard Columbus in Ohio since 1987. Prior to becoming the church’s first senior pastor, he taught business law at The Ohio State University for five years. For nearly two decades, he has served on the National Board for Vineyard: A Community of Churches and is currently serving as the leader of the Large Church Task Force for the Vineyard. His publications include Empowered Evangelicals: Bringing Together the Best of the Evangelical and Charismatic Worlds and Both-And: Living the Christ-Centered Life in an Either-Or World

John Ortberg is the Senior Pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Fuller Seminary, where he has served as an adjunct faculty member. He is also a board member of the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation, and has served on the board of Christianity Today International. His publications include The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People and Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You


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The Theology of Joy & the Good Life project is made possible by the John Templeton Foundation with additional support from the McDonald Agape Foundation.