About MTSO
CampusView banner February 2013

FROM THE PRESIDENT

A new arrival and a growing collaboration

Greetings from our beautiful campus, where we are in the midst of an exceptionally eventful and exciting Spring Semester. In this issue of Campus View, you’ll read below about some of the things we have planned for our extended community, including the Williams Institute Lectures, and our second year of collaboration with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. You’ll hear about other happenings in coming weeks and months. First, though, I’d like to share some news with you.

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Denise Lewis as assistant professor of pastoral care and counseling.  Dr. Lewis is a graduate of MTSO’s MA in Counseling Ministries program and earned her Ph.D. from Ohio University. She is a licensed professional counselor in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Prior to this academic year, she served as assistant professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  As you may know, Dr. Lewis is currently serving a one-year term appointment for 2012-13, following the retirement of Dr. Vergel Lattimore, our longtime professor and MACM program director. I am delighted that Dr. Lewis is joining our faculty, and I hope you will join me in welcoming her in this new role.  More information about her is available on her faculty web page.

As announced last fall, MTSO and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary have entered into a collaboration to enhance the ways both schools fulfill their mission. Our effort to advance a shared use of educational technology with integrity is under way.

A first coordinated effort has already begun, with creative interactions between students studying pastoral care and counseling on both campuses.  A team of faculty and staff from both schools is working hard to bring the next phase to fruition. And the joint task force that was assembled to consider new structural and programming alliances between the two seminaries continues to make progress through ongoing meetings.

Along with those things, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and questions about this collaboration, so I invite you to join me on a conference call Wednesday, March 13, at 10 a.m.  To participate at that time, simply dial 800-791-2345 and, when prompted, enter the teleconference code 23482.

These are invigorating times for this seminary we hold dear. Thank you for all you do to uplift MTSO’s vital mission with your prayers, your gifts and your service.

Jay Rundell

 

STUDENT REFLECTION

It can be tempting to return
to the comfort of our old skin  

By Grace S. Welch
MA in Counseling Ministries ’14

God wants to authenticate us – provide us with new skin. The process of shedding your old skin is painful, however. Your new skin can feel too large, too tight, too short or just plain uncomfortable. That can send you searching for your old skin.

Welch

I am in my third year and internship phase of the MACM program (the Pastoral and Professional Counseling Track). I know all about the pain of purging old skin.

Before coming to MTSO, I transitioned from a successful 23-year career in human resources for which I was passionate. I enjoyed my home, a comfortable living, great weather, a network of friends and contacts, and my church.

Here in Ohio, I found myself working in MTSO’s buildings and grounds department, living on campus, enduring the ups and downs of student life, and raising a son by myself, 1,400 miles from my family back in Arizona.

A year ago, my old skin came searching for me in the form of an assistant chief of staff opportunity, with significant pay and travel, a chance to work with a former business partner, and the prospect of returning home to Arizona. I was conflicted.

I prayed, spoke to my pastor and advisor, and tested the idea out with my Theories I class. I even accepted the invitation to interview and tour the facility, where a familiar sense of comfort washed over me. I was able to quickly assess departmental waste, process duplication, excessive overhead and spending. My old skin had not failed me.

Only this time, I saw my skin differently. This corporate opportunity was no different than I was used to, but I realized I had changed. Learning to let go of the comfortable and familiar – and surrendering to new and unexplored areas – is a large part of the authentication process.

I was offered the position and a chance to return home to loved ones. In those deliberating hours, I wrestled with my new and old skin and was reminded of the parable from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We all know what happens when new wine is put into old wineskins. The skin will be destroyed. But when new wine is poured into a fresh wineskin, both are preserved.

Needless to say, I did not take that job. Staying here at MTSO, pressing toward the calling, has not only preserved me, but it has shown me how to recognize the surrendering time. It has tested me and placed in me the courage to submit and the power to confront the unknown.

Those things were useful as I searched for a practicum intern site. I thought I could not work with alcohol and other substances or with troubled youths. I was hoping to intern in a facility where I could practice my pastoral care skills. Yet I was led to an addictions treatment and recovery facility.

Reluctant and hesitant at first, I pulled on the new skin. After the first couple of weeks, I was uneasy. This new skin felt like burlap. As I learned the operations, worked with staff and built therapeutic relationships my comfort level steadily increased. By the time my practicum ended, I had a newfound desire to work with this population. Had I tried to shed my new skin too soon, I clearly would have missed the chance to feel how well it could fit me.

Recently I had yet another chance to try on new skin, spending an internship working with adolescents, providing trauma informed care in a residential, shelter and acute-care setting.

I am doing everything I thought I would never do. Why should I be surprised? The Lord declared in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Resisting authentication – your new skin – is refusing a precious gift intended especially for you to accomplish the work you are called to do. My sisters and brothers, though the old and familiar lurks and calls to you, I encourage you to press on toward new goals in your new skin.

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NEW MTSO VIDEO

A moving glimpse
of a special place

MTSO has just released a special video to share student, faculty and alumni perspectives of this special place.

We hope you enjoy the video and share it with friends and those in your congregation and community. If you would like a DVD of this video to show in a public setting, email Danny Russell a request, including your address, and we’ll see that you receive one.

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WILLIAMS LECTURES

What can Medieval Spain teach us about religious coexistence?

Hernández

As the modern world struggles with tensions between major religions, Albert Hernández believes Medieval Spain offers a legacy worth exploring. Hernández, interim president and associate professor of the history of Christianity at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, will lead the Williams Institute at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

Under the Theme “Lessons from Medieval Spain: Religion’s Power to Unite or Divide,” Hernández will present two lectures: “The Tragedy of Andalucía: A Lost Legacy of Coexisting Religions” at 7 p.m. Feb. 26, and “Nationalism and Memory: Casting Religions as Neighbor or Foe” at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 27. Both lectures will be in the Alford Centrum on the MTSO campus, 3081 Columbus Pike in Delaware, Ohio. They are free and open to the public. No registration is necessary. Read more.

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FACULTY AUTHOR

Zimmerman’s book finds flaws
in U.S. anti-trafficking efforts

At first blush, you might wonder how anyone can spend a whole book contemplating the issues surrounding human trafficking. Trafficking is bad. We should work against it. End of discussion. Right?

For Dr. Yvonne Zimmerman, MTSO assistant professor of Christian ethics, that’s barely the beginning of the discussion. Her new book, “Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex and Human Trafficking,” is the culmination of years of research and personal soul-searching over the way the United States’ response to trafficking has been shaped by persuasive voices in the religious community. The result, she argues, has been an approach that often leaves sex workers more vulnerable and tends to overlook the plight of exploited laborers in other kinds of work.

As the term “human trafficking” has penetrated public consciousness in recent decades, Zimmerman said, Americans have tended to focus most on commercial sex, even though it accounts for only about one-tenth of worldwide human trafficking.

“There were a lot of religious groups that were interested in anti-trafficking work, but almost exclusively they were interested in sex trafficking,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not that they were indifferent to people picking tomatoes or people sewing their clothes, but ultimately it was sex trafficking that moved them to become involved in the issue of trafficking..”

Zimmerman

In 2000, President Clinton signed the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which has been reauthorized several times since. In Zimmerman’s view, “It’s doing some good things, and it’s doing some bad things. One of the bad things that has happened with this legislation is that the U.S. government has made access to federal anti-trafficking money contingent on signing this pledge which is known colloquially as the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath. You have to sign a statement that says you don’t in any way support or advocate for prostitution.”

The upshot, she said, is that any organization that reaches out to commercial sex workers – to provide child care, or to teach safe sex, self-defense or basic budgeting skills – is at risk for being seen as supporting prostitution, and thus becoming ineligible for U.S. funding. That strikes Zimmerman, who once worked in a rape crisis center, as a serious flaw.

“I’m not suggesting that I think sex work is glamorous or wonderful,” she said. “But I do think that it’s completely inappropriate for people in positions of relative privilege to sit back and make moralistic judgments about others whose lives have presented them with fewer or different opportunities and to tell them that their survival skills are immoral and wrong.”

The more Zimmerman researched the issue, the more personally conflicted she became.

“I could either be a religious studies scholar and work on human trafficking, and respond with religious and moral platitudes, or I could be a feminist and maybe say some different things about sex and sexuality. That was a real impasse for me, how to be both. That was the tension out of which this book was born.”

U.S. policy, Zimmerman said, is “very Protestant in its structure and form.” The result is a set of values that can be at odds with those in other cultures and even with some religious viewpoints in the United States.

“If Protestant moral traditions about sex and your body are not your starting point, then your conception of what is exploitative in a particular situation may not be the same thing as what a religiously and culturally Protestant person may see,” she said

Zimmerman worries when policy is guided by a philosophy that views exchanging sex for money as inherently exploitative: “I don’t condemn commercial sex. I condemn exploitative commercial sex.”

She chose the book title “Other Dreams of Freedom” carefully.

“Part of what is necessary is to not tell others what freedom looks like for them,” she said. “I think it’s important to let other people name for themselves, in the context of their own lives, what they want and what ‘freedom’ means for them.”

“One of my core commitments as an ethicist is to policies and organizations that work to create the space and opportunities for trafficking survivors and people who are vulnerable to trafficking to be able to choose how they want to live their lives. This is important because the opportunity to live lives in a manner that’s of their own choosing is one of the many things that taken away from trafficked persons. Even when people choose things that are very different than what I want for my life, that ability to decide for yourself what a livable life will consist of is a crucial part of moral agency and a key piece of what it means to respect and support human dignity.”

“Many feminist ethicists talk about solidarity and mutuality with others, and they support them in their endeavors,” Zimmerman said. “I see this book working in that vein, to support women and men around the world in pursuing their dreams of freedom. Even if they’re not intelligible in Protestant Christian terms, that alone isn’t sufficient reason to invalidate them.”

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DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI

Cleaver and Purushotham honored with Mount Awards

Purushotham and Cleaver

Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III and Rev. Dr. Gwen Purushotham have received the John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards, MTSO’s highest honor for former students. The awards were presented at the Mount Alumni Awards Luncheon Feb. 11.

Cleaver, senior pastor of the 2,600-member St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, received the Mount Award for Parish Ministry. Since earning his Master of Divinity degree from MTSO in 1999, Cleaver has served five congregations in Central Ohio and Kansas City, as a youth pastor, associate pastor and pastor.

Cleaver serves the broader church and community in numerous ways, including sitting on the Philander Smith College Board of Trustees, presiding over the Methodist Ministers’ Fellowship of Greater Kansas City and teaching as an adjunct professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

Purushotham, who earned an MTSO Master of Divinity degree in 1975, received the Mount Award for Specialized Ministry. She serves the United Methodist Church as associate general secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Division of Ordained Ministry.

In addition to her work with the GBHEM, Purushotham has pastored several churches and served as district superintendent in the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is the author of the book “Watching Over One Another in Love: A Wesleyan Model for Ministry Assessment.”

The John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards were created in 1990 to recognize MTSO alumni who have achieved distinction in ministry and in service to the school. The award program was created by MTSO founding Board of Trustees member John Mount and his late wife, Ruth.

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CONGREGATIONAL GIVING

Seminar helps churches grow beyond Stewardship Sunday

For the second year, the Theological Commons at MTSO and the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving are pleased to offer a unique opportunity for church leaders to learn and implement the best faith-based fundraising practices available today.

“Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity” is a three-part seminar presented on three Fridays: May 3, June 7 and Sept. 13. The nonprofit Lake Institute, a program of the nationally renowned Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, specializes in congregational fundraising. It provides a safe and neutral environment for religious and philanthropic practitioners, scholars, and the public at large to engage in reflection and conversation about the role of money. Because this seminar was extremely well-received by our 2012 participants, we are offering it again this year.

Tuition is $250 per person, which covers all three full-day seminar sessions, an accompanying notebook, lunch, and two CEU credits if requested. If three or more people from the same congregation attend, each may pay the special rate of $225. Learn more and register.

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CROSS-CULTURAL IMMERSION

Images of Cuba  

Professor Linda Mercadante and her husband, Cuba native Joseph Mas, led MTSO students in a cross-cultural immersion trip to Cuba Jan. 5-19, 2013.

This photo, taken at the Museum of the Revolution, is one of several from our first-ever Cuba cross-cultural trip. You can view more on MTSO’s Facebook page, where you’ll find photo descriptions and reflections by MTSO student Sara Hill.

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ON PREACHING

Video of Schooler Institute available online now  

MTSO’s Schooler Institute on Preaching, held earlier this month, was streamed live online, and the video coverage has been archived for viewing. To watch chapel services and lectures from Schooler, visit MTSO’s Livestream page.

Under the theme “The Other Presence in Your Pulpit,” United Methodist Bishop Gregory V. Palmer and United Methodist scholar Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki provided energetic, thought-provoking leadership to an excellent Schooler Institute Feb. 10-12.

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GIFTS OF SIGNIFICANCE

Leaving retirement plan assets
to MTSO has many benefits

By Rev. Stan Ling
Special Assistant to the President for Advancement

A gift of retirement plan assets after your lifetime is easy, financially prudent and one of the most significant ways you can support MTSO’s mission.

Retirement plans are subject to income taxes and possibly estate taxes. For those who owe estate taxes, nearly 60 percent of the value of your retirement plan may be paid in taxes when left to individuals after your lifetime. When you name MTSO as the beneficiary of your retirement plan assets, your estate will receive an estate tax deduction for the amount passing to MTSO. Plus, you are able to:

•          Provide a substantial gift to the school.

•          Memorialize your achievements or values with an endowed fund.

•          Recognized your loved ones or mentors by naming a fund in their honor.

•          Make a larger gift than might have been possible in your lifetime.

•          Retain control of your assets and use them during your lifetime.

How it works

1.         Contact us for sample beneficiary designation language.

2.         Ask your retirement plan administrator for a beneficiary designation form.

3.         The gift to the school may be stated as a percentage of your retirement plan.

4.         A separate agreement with the school is executed to define the eventual use of your gift. Please contact us for a sample agreement.

Our students have benefited mightily over the years from the generosity of members of our Sterling Society, which recognizes those who have included MTSO in their estate plans. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll contact me via email or at 740-362-3130 to discuss joining this very special group.

All gift options should be discussed with your legal, tax and financial advisors. I look forward to speaking with you and your advisors about your desire to invest in the lives of lasting significance that are taking shape at MTSO.

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