Campus View
News for friends of MTSO
May 2016


We celebrate a new relationship with the Freedom Center

MTSO thrives because of its relationships. We’re strengthened by the connections between students and the faculty and staff who serve them, as well as the bonds between our school and the alumni, trustees and friends who sustain its work.

Today, perhaps more than ever, we are augmenting our learning community with a robust slate of relationships with organizations and movements that broaden our reach and enhance our value to students and the broader MTSO community. Over the past few years you have no doubt read about – or even participated – in new connections with institutional partners.

In addition to our longstanding and primary relationship to the United Methodist Church and many additional denominational partnerships, we have added houses of study with the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. We have tangible partnerships with schools in Columbus, Chicago and Seoul. We’ve been sought out for membership in both the Green Seminary Initiative and the Seminary Stewardship Alliance. We have a rewarding new teaching relationship with the Pines School of Graduate Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.

I am pleased to announce a new cooperative relationship with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. The Freedom Center’s mission is “to reveal stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps of freedom today.”

This new relationship will join MTSO with the Freedom Center to promote justice and theologies of freedom. Together we aspire to further education in liberative and freedom theologies in areas of race, gender and economics and to engage Cincinnati-area churches and publics in the conversations and actions regarding those theologies.

MTSO will offer select for-credit course offerings at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati. The MTSO Theological Commons will work together with the center’s staff to develop curricula for certificate programs and think tank seminars for theologies of freedom. MTSO looks forward to hosting connected events in the areas of ecology and justice and to hosting traveling exhibits from the Freedom Center for the Columbus area.

I am also pleased to announce that the Freedom Center’s president, Clarence G. Newsome, will deliver our commencement address this month. Dr. Newsome has served as president of Shaw University, dean of the School of Divinity at Howard University and a member of the Duke Divinity School faculty. He holds B.A., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke, where he is a member of the board of trustees.

Commencement begins at 11 a.m. May 21. You are welcome to come and hear Dr. Newsome and help us congratulate our 54th graduating class.

MTSO is fast becoming an important hub for many significant relationships. It is an exciting time in the life of our school, and I am grateful for all of you who share in and support this work.

Jay Rundell


Need continuing ed? Short-term courses offer opportunities.

From denominational polity to food justice, MTSO offers short-term, intensive summer courses that provide valuable continuing-education opportunities for professionals in ministry and counseling.

All courses may be taken for credit, and many may be audited on a not-for-credit basis. Courses offered include:

  • Counseling Interventions with Troubled Youth, which offers critical insights and advanced skills for generating and guiding optimum collaboration, balance and growth within the individual, the family and the social system. July 11-15.
  • Food, Land and Faith Formation: Holy Communion for the Whole Creation, which immerses participants in the critical questions, spiritual energies, and regenerative practices bound up in the emergence of a more ecologically sustainable and economically just food economy. July 31-Aug. 5.
  • United Methodist Polity, which will cover the nature of the church, membership, congregational life, ministry, chain of conferences, agencies, property, judicial administration and ecumenism as reflected in the Book of Discipline and the Book of Resolutions. June 27-July 16.

Details regarding these and other summer courses are at

Significant Ministry Steps

Share your ordination and commissioning news

This is a season of important new steps in the ministry journeys of many students and alumni. We want to be sure that good news of ordination, commissioning and other significant status changes is shared with the MTSO community.

If you are being ordained or commissioned this year, please let us know by completing the brief form here. Thanks, and congratulations to all who are advancing in ministry.


Alum offers presentation on religion’s use of medical language

Jennifer Stockwell will speak May 4

The Theological Commons at MTSO will host a presentation on the intersection of Christianity and medicine, and the way language is used and misused in this context. Jennifer Stockwell will present “Ministries of the Body: A Talk on Christianity and Health in the 21st Century” at 1 p.m. May 4 in the Alford Centrum. It is free and open to the public.

“On Easter Sunday 2015, I listened to a leader at a progressive church begin her sermon by comparing Holy Week to cancer,” Stockwell said. “This comparison is familiar in the Christian tradition; leaders have often taught theological tenets through images and language borrowed from medicine and the health sciences.”

“As a graduate student studying the way language works at the intersection of medicine and religion, I find these metaphors fascinating and, often, deeply troubling,” she said. “I want to encourage leaders to be more responsible about the language they borrow from medicine.”

Stockwell holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from MTSO. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Theological Commons events kept campus humming in April

MTSO hosted two successful events presented by the Theological Commons in April.

Prophetic Ministry – Institute on Organizing and Preaching for Social Justice, April 4

More than 50 people participated in a day of conversation, reflection and training around doing prophetic ministry in our communities. Faith leaders, community organizers, lay persons, nonprofit leaders, MTSO students and alumni were a part of the day, which included workshops led by faculty scholars.

Participants learned strategies to incorporate responses to injustice, from the pulpit and in the community. The institute was made possible by a gift from Ray and Phyllis Sells and concluded with a coffee-shop concert by Bill Cohen, who shared songs and stories from the Civil Rights Era.

More photos are on MTSO’s Facebook page.

Earth Day Celebration, April 20

Timothy Van Meter, associate professor of Christian education and youth ministry, delivered a faculty lecture titled “Millennial Dreaming: Cultivating Hope and Ecological Vision.”

After the lecture, those in attendance headed up the hill to plant apple trees donated by the class of 2015. The trees now line the driveway just across from the Kleist Manor townhomes.

The Theological Commons archive has video of Van Meter’s lecture, and photos from the day are at posted on MTSO’s Facebook page.

New Specialization

MTSO offers D.Min. in Ecology, Justice and Ministry

The Doctor of Ministry program at MTSO is offering a new specialization: Ecology, Justice and Ministry. Those enrolling in MTSO’s D.Min. program may choose to specialize in either Ecology, Justice and Ministry or Leadership for Transformational Change.

“At MTSO, we see a growing emphasis on ecology coupled with our long-term historic commitment to social justice as a theological school,” said Professor Diane Lobody, director of the Doctor of Ministry program. “For us to offer a D.Min. track that links those two seemed to be the next important step.”

D.Min. students will take specialization courses including Creation and New Creation in Christian Tradition; Environmental Theology and Ethics; Justice and the Practices of Ministry; and Ecology, Place and Justice.

Lobody said MTSO is uniquely suited to offer the specialization in a number of ways, including the presence of Seminary Hill Farm, a campus-based organic farm that produces food served on campus and provided to many community partners.

“It would be easy to theorize about things like how land is used and how you make a network of organizations and farms, but what we have here is a living laboratory of that – on our campus,” Lobody said. “It’s not a rented farm that’s somewhere else. It’s integrated into our campus life and connected with other organizations in Central Ohio. That kind of resource is tremendously valuable and very rare in the United States.”

The Doctor of Ministry program at MTSO offers flexible, cohort-based study with an ecumenical focus. D.Min. students experience small classes, are taught by full-time and affiliated faculty, interact with a national, ecumenical student base, and work with attentive project advisors.

Classes meet on campus in two intensive sessions per year – one week each in mid-summer and January – for 3 1/2 years. The remainder of students’ work toward the D.Min. can be done off-campus.

MTSO’s D.Min. degree is offered through a Joint Doctor of Ministry Program with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus. MTSO students in the program receive their degrees from MTSO while having the benefit of working with faculty from both schools.

More information is available at