Campus View
News for friends of MTSO
June 2024


Board elects two new faculty members

The MTSO Board of Trustees has elected two new faculty members. Irene Elizabeth “Beth” Stroud (left, above) was elected assistant professor of history, beginning July 1. Lisa Allen-McLaurin, who has served under appointment at MTSO since July 2023, was elected professor of worship, music and spirituality.

Stroud comes to MTSO from Princeton University, where she has served as a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program. She also has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and Sarah Lawrence College.

Stroud holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University, a Master of Sacred Theology from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College.

On May 21, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church reinstated Stroud’s credential as an ordained elder, 20 years after that credential was revoked because of her committed relationship with another woman.

“Dr. Stroud will be a wonderful addition to our faculty,” said MTSO President Jay Rundell. “She has deep experience with ministry and the church, which, together with her strong scholarly credentials, will be a gift to our students and learning community.”

Allen-McLaurin, an ordained elder in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, is the author of books including Worship Matters! A Collection of Practical Essays on the Practical and Spiritual Discipline of Worship and A Womanist Theology of Worship: Liturgy, Justice, and Communal Righteousness.

Allen-McLaurin holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi; a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology, Emory University; and two bachelor’s degrees from Millsaps College.

Read a profile of Allen-McLaurin.

“Dr. Allen’s work with us this past year has blessed our seminary community and has already produced considerable fruit among those preparing to lead church worship,” Rundell said.


Dean Valerie Bridgeman welcomed into the United Methodist Church

MTSO Dean Valerie Bridgeman has worked closely with many Methodist colleagues for decades. Now she joins them as a United Methodist elder in full connection. Bishop Gregory Palmer welcomed her into communion through recognition of orders at the West Ohio Annual Conference Celebration of Ministry in Columbus June 1.

Bridgeman was licensed by the Church of God Anderson, Indiana, in 1977 and ordained in that tradition in 1985. It wasn’t long before she found her work intersecting with Methodism.

Over the years, she has served as interim pastor for a UM congregation in Memphis and preacher-in-residence for a UM church in Washington, D.C. She served on a working committee of Methodists and Wesleyans from other communions on the study that resulted in the UMC’s This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion, which was adopted by the 2004 General Conference as the official interpretive statement of theology and practice.

And she co-edited The Africana Worship Book, with three volumes following lectionary years, published by the Upper Room. The team also co-edited essays for a book to help people think about the role and theology of Africana worship, Companion to the Africana Worship Book.

With the June 1 celebration, Bridgeman said with a smile, she now is officially “Methodized.”

“It literally is just the next faithful step. I believe God called me to this some time ago. It’s just taken this long to get to it.”


Graduates celebrate and embark on vocations of ministry and service

MTSO awarded degrees in five master’s programs and the Doctor of Ministry at the school’s 52nd commencement May 18.

“You are an exceptional class in so many ways,” President Jay Rundell told the graduates. “You are the folks who took a bit of a flyer, a bit of a risk: You came to us in COVID. I want you all to know you’re special. You persevered.”

In an impassioned address, Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church repeatedly declared, “I love the church.”

“If you don’t love the church, don’t critique the church,” Palmer said. “And if you’re going to critique the church, love the church. And if it ain’t the church you want it to be, you show up and be who God asked you to be and see if it won’t get better.”

Videos, photos and PDFs of printed programs from commencement and baccalaureate are available for viewing here.


Environmental Theology and Ethics course offered for auditing in July

MTSO is offering a one-week intensive course, Environmental Theology and Ethics, for auditing the week of July 22. The audit fee is $200, with a reduced fee of $75 for those 60 or older. Those who wish to audit are invited to complete a brief non-credit application here.

This course will help students to understand the current world’s ecological crisis and the ways scholars of religion, particularly Christianity, have responded to this reality, theologically and ethically. By engaging with scholars from different fields of expertise, this course offers opportunity for students to develop their own ecotheological understanding. It will be taught by Dr. Candace Laughinghouse, a member of MTSO’s adjunct faculty.

Environmental Theology and Ethics will meet 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, July 22, through Friday, July 26. It is offered in the HyFlex synchronous format, offering attendance in person or online.

The course also can be taken for three credit hours at MTSO’s standard tuition rates, though it requires prerequisites. Visiting students pursuing graduate degrees at other seminaries or divinity schools are welcome to register here to take the class.

To learn more about taking Environmental Theology and Ethics, contact the Admissions Department at or 800-333-6876.


We congratulate students and alumni being ordained and commissioned

This is a season of significant ministry steps for a number of MTSO’s students and alumni. We have compiled a listing of ordinations, commissionings and other milestones.

We invite you view the list – and to let us know if your name should be added – here.