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News for friends of MTSO
January 2022

‘Pathways for Tomorrow’

Lilly Endowment awards MTSO a new $1 million grant

MTSO has received a five-year grant of $999,665 to help establish “Connecting Pathways: A Multi-Faceted Approach to Strengthen and Sustain Current and Future Faith Leaders.”

The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

The new grant was awarded less than a year after Lilly Endowment awarded MTSO $995,731 to help establish “Spaces for Thriving: Cultivating Authentic Pastors for Small Membership Churches and Communities of Color.” Lilly Endowment made the grant through its Thriving in Ministry Initiative.

MTSO’s successful Pathways for Tomorrow proposal arose from a Lilly Endowment planning grant, awarded in the spring of 2021, which enabled the school to conduct an online survey with more than 300 respondents, followed by individual conversations.

The resulting project will utilize MTSO’s distinct strengths in two distinct parts.

Part One, “Connecting Pathways: Congregations and Other Ministry Partners,” will support existing religious leaders, focusing on anti-racism training and resourcing. Working with partner organizations, MTSO will help faith leaders to assess land use and church food programs to assist in building community engagement.

Part Two, “Connecting Pathways: Vocational Exploration Intensive for Young Adults,” will invite young adults to imagine the possibilities for lifelong faith, offering experiential learning, theological reflection, worship, and relationships with healthy community leaders and vibrant faith communities. It will introduce the whys and hows of ministry, connecting participants with faith leaders, including some of those involved in Part One of the project.

Read more.


Virtual Admissions Open House set

The MTSO admissions staff will host a virtual Admissions Open House from noon to 2 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The Open House will give those considering graduate theological school the opportunity to talk live with faculty and current students, in addition to the admissions staff. The sessions also will include a virtual tour of the MTSO campus and a discussion of our generous financial aid options. More than 95% of MTSO master's students receive generous financial aid, up to full tuition with stipends.

To register and learn more about these events and register, visit our Open House web page.

Those who are unable to attend but wish to arrange a virtual or onsite campus tour may contact the admissions staff at

The January Open House comes as MTSO anticipates the return of April Casperson as director of enrollment management. An MTSO alum who served on staff in several capacities from 2007 to 2017, Casperson most recently has been director of diversity and inclusion for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. She also consults with annual conferences, church agencies, nonprofits and universities.

Benjamin Hall continues as MTSO’s director of admissions and in his bivocational role as pastor of Family Fellowship Church in Gahanna.

“April is well-known to many at MTSO and beyond for her stellar work and deep commitment to the mission and values of our school and our many institutional partners,” said MTSO President Jay Rundell. “She and Benjamin are a potent team, and we’re grateful for their important work connecting us with those who aspire to vocations of ministry and service.”

Four Wednesdays, starting March 16

Jay Rundell moderates conversations on preaching in a unique time

The world has changed dramatically – as have preaching and worship – since MTSO hosted the last Schooler Institute on Preaching in early March of 2020.

The 2022 Schooler Institute will live in that reality and explore what it means to lead meaningful worship in our current climate. Under a unique virtual format, MTSO President Jay Rundell will host a series of conversations with alumni serving in a variety of church contexts.

Schooler participants will be invited to gather online at 3 p.m. Eastern over four Wednesdays – March 16, 23 and 30, and April 6 – to hear Rundell and the panels discuss how the events of the past two years have shaped their sermons, their worship services and the congregations they lead. Panelists will include:

  • Nathan Adams, lead pastor of Park Hill United Methodist Church in Denver
  • Andy Call, lead pastor of Church of the Saviour United Methodist Church in Cleveland
  • Emanuel Cleaver III, senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City
  • Kathy Dwyer, senior pastor of Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, Virginia
  • Chris George, pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia
  • Grace Imathiu, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois
  • Colleen Ogle, senior pastor of Bexley United Methodist Church
  • TaNikka Sheppard, executive pastor of the Fountain Church in Miami Gardens, Florida

Thanks to the generosity of the Schooler Family Foundation, the Schooler Institute is presented at no cost. We offer 0.5 continuing education units for a $25 processing fee. To qualify for CEU credit, you must attend all four sessions in their entirety.

Zoom registration links for Schooler Institute conversations are now open. Registration for each session will remain open until the start of the session.

Register today.