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News for friends of MTSO
December 2016

Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative

MTSO and partners awarded $425,000 Luce grant

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a three-year, $425,000 grant to MTSO to support the establishment of the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative. The grant will be shared by MTSO, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, and the Green Seminary Initiative, a project of Drew Theological School and GreenFaith.

A growing number of seminary leaders in diverse settings recognize the moral imperative to play a role in the care of God’s creation, but they face significant challenges in addressing environmental issues on their own. The Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative aims to establish best practices and offer resources for seminaries that wish to engage in environmental issues academically and institutionally.

Funds from the grant will be used to advance seminary environmental engagement through two lines of action. First, the Green Seminary Initiative will enroll up to 10 seminaries nationwide in the Seminary Environmental Certification Program, a three-year process through which the schools will integrate environmental protection and care into the areas of education, worship and spiritual formation, facility and grounds maintenance, community leadership, and governance. 

In addition, the Green Seminary Initiative and MTSO will join with the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development to lead six Seminary Faith and Ecology Conferences at locations throughout the United States. Each conference is expected to involve 50-75 seminary faculty and staff, focusing on emerging pedagogical approaches to faith and ecology.

MTSO will administer the grant through the leadership of Timothy Van Meter, associate professor in the Alford Chair of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, and will coordinate research related to the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative, developing evaluative tools and convening writing groups to produce materials arising from the initiative. Van Meter and Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, MTSO assistant professor of theology, ecology and race, will serve as research coordinators.

In a letter to MTSO President Jay Rundell, Luce Foundation President Michael Gilligan said, “We congratulate you and your colleagues for producing a proposal that rose to the top of a highly competitive pool of applicants for the first grants from the new Luce Fund for Theological Education.”

You'll find more information, including the executive summary of the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative, here

Jan. 17 application deadline

Scholarship competition announced

MTSO is accepting applications for its 2017-18 scholarship competition. Scholarship applications will be accepted through Jan. 17. Finalists will be invited to campus for on-campus interviews Feb. 20 and 21. The application form is available online.

Thanks to the generosity of donors with a deep commitment to graduate theological education, MTSO offers many scholarships – 50 of them offering full tuition – to make seminary affordable. Among them: 

  • The Harding Scholarships: Full tuition plus $10,000 annual stipend.
  • The Alford Scholarships: Full tuition plus $2,000 annual stipend.

One in three full-time MTSO master's students has earned a full-tuition scholarship. The average annual non-loan aid award is $9,900.

Those who attend the February scholarship interviews will meet faculty and current students, tour campus, and get to know others who share their aspirations for religious leadership and service.

“Our February interviews are a special experience for prospective students,” said MTSO Director of Admissions Benjamin Hall. “Obviously, the opportunity to earn scholarships is a big part of it. But it goes beyond that. Scholarship applicants get a sense of the campus, the faculty and their fellow students. Every year, we see people meet and begin friendships that last throughout their time in seminary and beyond.”

‘Harvard Theological Review’ article

Schellenberg reconsiders Paul’s ‘foolish boasting’


In an article for the October 2016 issue of Harvard Theological Review, MTSO Assistant Professor of New Testament Ryan Schellenberg reconsiders Paul’s “foolish boasting” in 2 Corinthians. Schellenberg compares Paul to Samson Occom, a Mohegan missionary of the mid-18th century.

The full article, “Paul, Samson Occom, and the Constraints of Boasting: A Comparative Rereading of 2 Corinthians 10-12,” was recently made available for free access through Jan. 13, 2017. 

Schellenberg, who has studied and published numerous articles on Paul and the social history of early Christianity, argues that Paul and Occom each faced a crisis of identity.

“Each saw his stature being undercut by rivals,” explains the abstract of Schellenberg’s article. “Each was of marginal social status – Occom, an Indian; Paul, a sickly and itinerant Jew. And each sought to reassert himself by means of the risky, even desperate rhetorical strategy of boasting in just such missionary hardships as would remind his hearers of his tenuous social position.”

Schellenberg comes to a different conclusion than scholars who have contended that Paul's “foolish boasting” is an ironic rhetorical ruse. “Rather,” Schellenberg writes, “this is an earnest, even desperate plea for recognition the shape of which derives from the ambivalence of Paul's status in Corinth. Paul speaks like a fool because he is constrained.”

Jan. 15 event

MTSO hosts community MLK service


The Delaware community’s 32nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. worship service will be hosted by MTSO. The service begins at 3 p.m. Jan. 15 in the Alford Centrum.

The featured speaker is MTSO alumnus Rev. Gregory Kendrick Jr., associate pastor of the United Methodist Church for All People in Columbus. The theme is “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” A free-will offering will benefit the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, which benefits graduating high school students from Delaware County.

A related event, the 24th annual MLK Breakfast Celebration, begins at 7:45 a.m. Jan. 16 in the Benes Room of Ohio Wesleyan University’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave. Valerie Bridgeman, MTSO associate professor of homiletics and Hebrew Bible, will be the featured speaker.

Breakfast tickets are $20, available online. Reservations are requested before Jan. 6. Proceeds benefit programs sponsored by the MLK Celebration Committee, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship.

Year-end giving

Make a tax-deductible donation to MTSO

In this season of gratitude and generosity, we invite you to invest in MTSO’s education of future Christian leaders. Every gift of any amount provides meaningful support to our mission.

Our most popular funds for donors are the Seminary Scholarship Fund, which provides direct financial assistance to our students, and Methesco’s Greatest Needs, which is used where it can best benefit MTSO’s mission. We offer secure online giving as well as options for donating via mail or phone

Today’s MTSO students will provide religious leadership for decades to come. On behalf of those students and all those whose lives they will touch, we thank you for your faithful support.


Reserve a spot today

Admissions Open House is Jan. 17

If you’re considering theological education or know someone who is, here’s an opportunity to take big strides in the discernment process. MTSO will welcome prospective students to our Winter Open House Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Highlights include opportunities to sit in on a class, tour apartments and residence halls, explore MTSO’s many financial aid options, attend chapel, talk with current students, faculty and admissions counselors, and learn about Seminary Hill Farm.

Our Open House is free to anyone considering graduate-level theological education. Lunch is provided, and overnight housing may be available. To reserve a spot, visit our Open House web page. If you have questions about the Open House or any other admissions-related topic, please email