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News for friends of MTSO
August 2019

'Christians and the Disinherited'

Pulitzer winner Leonard Pitts Jr. headlines Sept. 6 conference

The Ohio Council of Churches is celebrating its centennial with a conference focused on the century to come, cosponsored by MTSO and the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ.

“Christians and the Disinherited: Toward the Next 100 Years of Ecumenical Ministry” will bring together religious leaders and lay people from a host of denominations throughout Ohio. Those who gather on the MTSO campus Sept. 6 will engage in conversations around the social issues that are most pressing for Christians to confront over the next 100 years.

Nationally syndicated columnist, bestselling author and lecturer Leonard Pitts Jr. will speak during the evening session. Pitts, who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is the author of nonfiction and fiction books including Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood and the novel Grant Park. His latest is The Last Thing You Surrender, a novel set during World War II.

The conference will last through the day, with Pitts speaking during the evening session at 7:30 p.m. Conference registration is $50, or $30 for students and retirees. Those who wish to come only to the evening session may register for $20. Learn more and register here.

Monday, Oct. 7 event

Alumni Day registration opens

We invite all MTSO alumni, students, faculty and staff – as well as former Methesco faculty and staff members – to join us for Alumni Day and take advantage of this annual opportunity to reconnect.

MTSO’s 2019 Alumni Day opens Oct. 7 with a morning chapel service and continues with a luncheon honoring this year’s recipients of the John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards for Distinguished Service:

  • Eugene Folden (M.Div. ’84), associate pastor – congregational care at Linworth United Methodist Church, Columbus.
  • TaNikka Sheppard (M.Div. ’10), director of life development at New Salem Baptist Church, Columbus, and president of the Baptist Women of North America.
  • Ellen Sims (M.Div. ’06), pastor of Open Table United Church of Christ in Mobile, Alabama.

As always, lunch will feature Seminary Hill Farm produce and other locally sourced food.

All events are being presented at no cost to guests, though everyone who plans to attend is asked to RSVP using the online registration form. This advance registration will help with food preparation and other planning.

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Leadership roles

MTSO strengthens ties to Ohio Interfaith Power and Light

Over the past five years, MTSO has developed a close relationship with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, which promotes a religious response to climate change. Recently the Ohio IPL-MTSO connection has strengthened further.

Timothy Van Meter, associate professor in MTSO’s Alford Chair of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, has been elected chair of the Ohio IPL board.

“Our mission, focused around energy and food and healthy environments for all people, is a natural fit for us to work with Ohio IPL,” said Van Meter, who also coordinates MTSO’s ecological initiatives. “This allows us to increase our ecumenical and interreligious connections around this work.”

Joining Van Meter on the Ohio IPL board is Kelsey Ryan-Simkins (MA in Practical Theology ’18), who also administers a Henry Luce Foundation grant for MTSO and its partners in the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative. And Alex Clemetson (MA in Practical Theology ’18), who will begin pursuing his MA in Social Justice this fall, has joined Ohio IPL’s staff as environmental organizer.

Among the Ohio IPL projects that have Van Meter excited are two around energy conservation. The Energy Stewards program connects faith communities with available technical and financial resources to implement energy conservation and efficiency within their facilities. Van Meter said the program promotes stewardship of both the planet and church budgets: “Very often, energy is the first or second highest cost of congregations.”

A related program, Faithful Footprints, benefits churches and their individual members through a partnership with Columbia Gas. During the month of August, Columbia Gas customers who are members of participating congregations may arrange a free home energy audit (the regular price is $50), and the participating congregation will receive $20 per audit.

Churches wishing to participate in the Faithful Footprints or Energy Stewards program may contact Ohio IPL Outreach Manager Alycia Ashburn at


New 2019-20 Leadership Series begins in September

Registration is open for the 2019-20 Healthy Congregations Leadership Series. Healthy Congregations is an interfaith organization that equips leaders for challenges of thinking more clearly about families, relationships and faith communities. The organization's offices and much of its programming reside on the MTSO campus.

The Leadership Series includes eight one-day seminars spread over nine months, with both online and on-site options. The first seminar will be held Sept. 19 (online) and 20 (on site), with the topic “Alliances, Coalitions and Triangles; The Geometry of Human Relationships.” Registration for the series is $1,200 per person, or $1,000 per person if at least two people are registering from the same church or family.

Learn more and register here.