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News for friends of MTSO
November 2014

February Event

Register now for the Schooler Institute on Preaching

Registration is open for the Schooler Institute on Preaching, to be held Feb. 23 and 24. The Monday-Tuesday event will be led by Valerie Bridgeman and Jorge Lockward. Thanks to the generosity of the Schooler Family Foundation, the event is offered to the public without cost, though advance registration is required. MTSO is offering one CEU credit for a $25 administrative processing fee.

Bridgeman is visiting associate professor at MTSO and has recently been appointed to the faculty as associate professor of homiletics and Hebrew Bible. (Learn more about her in the story below.)

Jorge Lockward is director of global praise for the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, he was a committee member of the Spanish Language United Methodist Hymnal and has served as consultant on other denominational hymnals.

Visit the Schooler Institute web page to register today.

Faculty Recognition

Denise Lewis receives Ohio University alumni award

Denise Lewis, assistant professor of pastoral care and counseling at MTSO, has been honored by the Ohio University Counselor Education Program for her record of scholarship and service.

Lewis was chosen by Ohio University’s counselor education faculty to receive the George E. Hill Memorial Award, developed to recognize outstanding work and professional service of a graduate of the Counselor Education Program. She earned her doctorate from Ohio University in 2009 and a Master of Arts in Counseling Ministries degree from MTSO in 2005.

In a letter informing Lewis of the award, Program Coordinator Christine Suniti Bhat wrote, “The Counselor Education Program faculty would like to congratulate you on your achievements and contributions. We are honored to have alumni like you.”

Lewis was appointed assistant professor at MTSO in July 2012. Prior to her arrival at MTSO, she was assistant professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition to her work at MTSO, Lewis is vice president and CEO of TRU-ROB Counseling & Consulting, and is the founder of Life Unlimited Counseling & Consulting Services.


Thankful after Thanksgiving? Celebrate Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday was begun in 2012 as a response to the consumption-driven post-Thanksgiving events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Channeling the holiday spirit of generosity, Giving Tuesday offers all of us an opportunity to come together for a special day of philanthropy.

This year, on Dec. 2, we invite you to celebrate Giving Tuesday by investing in the work of MTSO. Your gift will help fund scholarships for our students and will allow the school to maintain and enhance the educational opportunities we provide them.

And here's a secret: You're welcome to celebrate early. Our Giving Tuesday page will help you to donate electronically online or via check any time through Dec. 2. We invite you to visit it now. Thank you for considering your participation in this new tradition.

Bob Dister

A Course of Study student finds 'a perfect fit' in MTSO's program

Alumni and friends of MTSO are familiar with the education the school provides through its five graduate degree programs. Less well-known is MTSO’s role hosting the Course of Study School of Ohio.

The five-year Course of Study is prescribed by the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry for those seeking to serve congregations as licensed local pastors rather than ordained elders or deacons.

As one of the eight regional Course of Study schools, MTSO hosts four two-day sessions and one two-week intensive session each year. Classes such as Theological Heritage, Evangelism, Transformative Leadership and Preaching are taught by COS faculty, including some full-time MTSO faculty members.

A Course of Study education at MTSO can be a transformative process in the preparation of licensed local pastors. Bob Dister knows that first-hand.

“Methesco had the perfect fit for me,” said Dister, who is two years into his Course of Study education. He is a licensed local pastor appointed to Clayton and Rollin Center United Methodist churches, just west of Adrian, Mich.

Dister and his wife of 34 years, Pat, have two daughters, one of whom is a Master of Divinity student at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. His own entry into full-time ministry comes after years of education and nonprofit work experience, a wealth of education, and a gradual realization that this is his passion.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Miami University, followed by two master’s degrees, in education and school counseling. In southern Michigan, he co-owned and operated a Montessori preschool and daycare center, worked for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club, and served as executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity. He also became deeply involved at Morenci UMC “and literally held every position you can hold – including janitor,” eventually becoming a certified lay speaker.

During his time with Habitat, Dister realized the thing he found most “exhilarating” was serving as a fill-in preacher at a local church for six weeks. That led to his decision to follow his call to full-time United Methodist ministry.

Of course, that meant more school, and seeking a third master’s degree didn’t seem to Dister like the optimal path. He joked, “I thought, ‘OK, God, if you’d called me a little earlier I could have done my M.Div. from Methesco.’”

While the Master of Divinity wasn’t the perfect fit for Dister, it turned out MTSO was. He knew he would be taking classes while serving as a pastor full-time, and he wanted to maximize the time he spent on the job.

“I recognized for my congregations, it was important that I was there and available,” he said. When attending the two-day COS sessions at MTSO, he is able to spend Friday and Saturday in class and still preach on Sunday.

Dister appreciates the class time, particularly the engagement with the faculty and fellow pastors.

“I’m constantly amazed at how much they care about us and about our experience,” he said. “One of my biggest fears was that my preaching style would have to meet some standard I’m not comfortable with. It ended affirming that we each find our own voice, and we’re encouraged and supported in that.”

In addition, Dister has gotten to know his Course of Study classmates.

“After two years being in classes with folks time and time again, you develop friendships and you begin to care about one another. We pray for one another and lift one another up when we’re struggling.”

Dister has come to expect an uplifting environment on his trips south to MTSO.

“Yes, we have to get a grade,” he said, “and yet the experience is one of support and encouragement rather than critical judgment.”

“I find that everyone at MTSO’s Course of Study wants us to succeed.”

Faculty Appointment

Valerie Bridgeman named associate professor

MTSO has appointed Valerie Bridgeman associate professor of homiletics and Hebrew Bible, effective July 1, 2015. Bridgeman began serving as visiting associate professor at MTSO in early 2014.

An ordained minister, Bridgeman is in high demand across the country as a preacher and speaker. Prior to coming to MTSO, she was a tenured associate professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She also is the founding president and CEO of WomanPreach! Inc., a nonprofit organization that brings preachers to full prophetic voice.

Bridgeman served as general editor and consultant for the United Methodist Church’s Africana Worship project and has published extensively. She was associate editor and author for The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora and co-editor of Those Preaching Women: A Multicultural Collection.

Bridgeman earned a doctorate in biblical studies (Hebrew Bible concentration) from Baylor University, with secondary studies in ethics. She also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s from Trinity University.

“Dr. Bridgeman brings a special blend of scholarship, creativity and energy to our campus,” said MTSO President Jay Rundell. “She is known broadly for her prophetic voice regarding important issues for the church and the world. I expect she will help those we’re preparing for ministry to find their voices as well.”