From here in sweltering Central Ohio, I'd like to wish you a happy new year. You're no doubt aware that the rhythms of an academic institution—not unlike those of many churches—tend to turn the standard Gregorian calendar on its head. As we pass through mid-summer and launch a new year on the MTSO campus, it's also an appropriate time for thanksgiving.
We closed our 2010-11 year with a deep sense of gratitude for the many ways you, our alumni and friends, contribute to the vital work of this school. Your generosity helped us to exceed our annual fund goal. Your referrals of prospective students have helped provide us with an extremely promising incoming class. And in your daily lives, you provide a model of the Christian values we hold dear as a school.
We expect to conclude the upcoming academic year by celebrating the graduation of one of the largest classes in our history. Those well-prepared grads will join thousands of fellow MTSO alums in work of lasting significance.
Your faithful support makes their ministry possible. It's as simple as that. On behalf of all of our students and all those they will serve, lead, counsel and teach throughout their ministries, thank you.
The Schooler Institute is part of Alumni Days, featuring the John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards Luncheon and a Tribute to Emeritus Faculty. The emeritus honorees are Emeritus Professor of Theological Bibliography Edward Hunter and Emeritus Professor of Worship and Music Roy Reed.
Alumni Days begin Sunday evening, Sept. 18, with the tribute to Hunter and Reed. The Schooler Institute will be held Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 19 and 20, with the Mount Awards Luncheon scheduled for noon Sept. 19.
There is no charge for Schooler Institute events or the Mount Alumni Awards Luncheon. Schooler attendees have the option of receiving one Continuing Education Unit credit for $25, payable by check at the event.
Tex Sample has worked as a cab driver, a laborer and an oil field roust-about. He pastored churches for eight years and served three years as the Director of Social Relations of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
Sample is the Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Professor Emeritus of Church and Society at Saint Paul School of Theology. He works and teaches in the areas of U.S. lifestyles, culture, social theory and social change, power, social class, and theological ethics. The latest of his nine books is Earthy Mysticism: Spirituality for Unspiritual People (Abingdon Press, 2008).
"Tex has a well-earned reputation as a thought-provoking and entertaining speaker," said MTSO President Jay Rundell. "His unique skills and gifts are a perfect fit for the Schooler Institute on Preaching."
The Schooler Institute on Preaching was established in 1989 with a generous grant from the Schooler Family Foundation, with the intent that it would enhance the skills of those serving in pulpit ministry. Seward Schooler was a founding trustee of MTSO, and his son David served on the board for 12 years.
The John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards are made possible by the generosity of MTSO Trustee Emeritus John Mount and his late wife Ruth. Since 1990, they have honored alumni for distinguished service to MTSO, in parish ministry and in specialized ministry.
Nominations for Mount Alumni Awards are welcome and will be accepted through Aug. 15. An online nomination form is available at www.mtso.edu/mountnomination.
The MTSO community dives into work with Freedom Schools
In the summer of 1964, a movement took hold in Mississippi and other parts of the South to confront the inequality of educational opportunities for African-Americans. "Freedom Schools" were established and led largely by college students, offering academic enrichment and encouraging political engagement among those who attended. While people of all ages learned at those Freedom Schools, most were school-age children.
Forty-seven years later, Greater Columbus has experienced its own Freedom Summer. Hundreds of children, primarily from low-income neighborhoods, attended Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools at eight sites throughout the city. In Ohio, the Freedom Schools program is administered by Laura Young, senior organizer for the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio and a 2007 MTSO grad. Young is one of many MTSO alums, students, faculty and staff who seized the opportunity to contribute to this exciting program.
"Methesco taught me a lot about practical theology," Young said. "It's one thing to preach it, and it's another to be able to preach it in order to be able to empower people to do it." Ohio's 12 Freedom Schools – all overseen by Young – celebrated the "Grand Finale" of their six-week term July 29. Next year, she hopes to see the number of schools grow.
Mark Reed, second-year MTSO student, serves as director of children's ministries at Summit on 16th UMC and project director for the Freedom School the church hosted. Summit's lead pastor, 2009 MTSO grad April Blaine, is executive director of Freedom Schools at both Summit and nearby Maynard Avenue UMC.
"There's a lot about Jesus's work that I think we need to be more aware of in our everyday lives," Reed said. "Some of that comes from giving people the tools they need to reach their potential or their dreams and hopes for their own lives. That's why I think this is an important tie-in to what we're doing at MTSO."
On Columbus's west side, three Freedom Schools are operated by the Hilltop Shalom Zone, a nonprofit organization working for justice, peacemaking and the renewal of the Hilltop community. Retired United Methodist Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, a 1965 graduate of MTSO, founded the Shalom Zone and recently retired as its executive director. Julia Nielsen Bingman, MTSO class of 2009, is now director of the Shalom Zone.
"With constant reports of urban woes and rampant violence, Central Ohioans can rejoice in the good news contained in the eight Columbus-area Freedom Schools," Sprague said. "The Zone's three schools on the Hilltop, which, in cooperation with Columbus City Schools, served 150 youngsters and employed 18 college young adults, resonated with the joy of reading, the strength of mentors, and the sheer glee of sweet dreams replacing the sour nightmares of God's precious urban children."
The Freedom School model stresses literacy enrichment, family involvement, civic engagement and social action, intergenerational leadership development, and health and nutrition. Nationally, one-third of Freedom Schools are sponsored by faith-based organizations. They're funded through grants, not tuition, and are open to all school children.
"One of the key components is that the children, who are age 5 through 18, are taught the curriculum by college-age students," Young said. The ratio of scholars, as the young students are called, to college-age servant leader interns is 10-to-1. Each day opens with Harambee, a half-hour assembly of affirmation and preparation for the day ahead. Mornings are devoted to literacy and feature books chosen for their relevance to the scholars' lives and the message that they can make a difference for themselves, their families and the world.
"We spend about 2 1/2 hours teaching the book," Reed said. "Not just reading the book together, but teaching the book in about three or four different learning styles so they're able to really get it even though they may not be terribly proficient at reading itself."
"Then, in the afternoon, we try to open some of their geographic boundaries by taking them on field trips and doing art activities and things they might not have already experienced in their lives," he said. "We provide breakfast, lunch and a snack each day, and try to make it as fun as we can make it along the way."
As part of the Columbus Freedom Schools' social-action component, more than 400 scholars and 150 adults participated in a National Day of Social Action July 13 by holding a rally at Broad Street UMC and marching to the Ohio Statehouse to oppose education budget cuts.
As Ohio's 2011 Freedom Summer drew to a close, Young was energized by this year's successes and excited about the possibility of a growing presence for the program next year.
"The point of it all is to show children that they can make a difference in the world," she said. "I think our society will be judged by how we treat our children."
Wallace's The Christian Year provides a lectionary guide
When Dr. Robin Knowles Wallace thinks about her newly published book, The Christian Year: A Guide for Worship and Preaching, she's particularly pleased by two things.
First, thanks to research during a recent sabbatical, she was able to provide her readers with the latest scholarship.
"Over my sabbatical, I studied all the most recent work on the Christian year," says Wallace, professor in the Taylor Endowed Chair of Worship and Music and director of MTSO's Doctor of Ministry program. "The first chapter is pretty concise and really up to date on what scholars know now about the development of the Christian year."
Second, she incorporated thoughts on worship as it relates to missio Dei – God's mission: "Although worship is a time to set aside and be with God, it needs to bear fruit in how we're sent by God to live in the world, to help move the world toward God's vision."
"We say, 'What are we being sent to do? This week, the scriptures send us to do X, Y, Z.'"
The Christian Year is Wallace's seventh book, her fifth for Abingdon Press. She's quick to acknowledge the work of three MTSO graduates who contributed to the book during their time as students: Cordelia Burpee (M.Div. '10), Robin Dillon (M.Div. '10) and Michele Holloway (M.Div. '11).
The book follows the Revised Common Lectionary, though the last chapter provides alternative readings for Ordinary Time, those Sundays following Epiphany and Pentecost. The alternative readings aren't in the standard RCL, Wallace says, "because they're harder." Some
passages, for instance, "deal with anger – human anger, God's anger. They deal with hard situations. All our heroes in the Bible aren't totally clean."
In addition to prayers, litanies, and suggestions for preaching and music, The Christian Year offers suggestions for the use of art, poetry and color in services. It also provides a few bonuses Wallace considers "kind of fun," such as varieties of names for God appropriate to each season and even a few suggestions for handling the annual early December debate between proponents of Advent hymns and Christmas carols.
Summing up the book, Wallace says, "I think it's for people who are able to move beyond denominational worship books."
"It's for any size church. A group of 12 people could use this, but it would also be a resource for a large church very easily."
With this issue of Campus View, we begin a series of reading suggestions by members of MTSO’s faculty.
Dr. Timothy Van Meter, assistant professor in the Alford Chair of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, suggests three books for some enlightened summer reading. Below are the books, with his comments.
Ministering to the Missing Generation
By Carol Howard Merritt
Alban Institute, 2007
The students in my young-adult ministry course found this to be the most useful book in describing contexts and possibilities for ministry with that vital group.
Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age
By Clay Shirky
Penguin Press, 2010
Shirky explains how the demise of television and the growth in participatory media opens space for creative engagement in solving local and global problems.
Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
By Bill McKibben
Times Books, 2010
A United Methodist layperson, McKibben offers a sober assessment of our impact on the systems that sustain life on earth, along with grounded hope for our shared future.