Campus View
News for friends of MTSO
October 2016

National recognition

Auburn calls MTSO a 'Bright Spot'

Auburn Seminary has recognized MTSO in its report “Bright Spots in Theological Education: Hopeful Stories in a Time of Crisis and Change.” Based in New York City, Auburn is a leadership development institute seeking to equip leaders of faith and moral courage to inspire positive change in the world.

Auburn’s Sept. 20 report, which features MTSO’s Seminary Hill Farm on the cover, was released Sept. 20. In the section “Modes of Innovation: 10 Case Studies,” the report details the “leap of faith” that began with MTSO’s founding of the farm and extends to an array of commitments to ecology and social justice. Among other MTSO initiatives cited in the report are:

“The renewal of the seminary is emerging from this new imagination regarding use of their land in relation to their core mission,” the Auburn report says of MTSO, “and in turn, their core mission is sharpening in its focus and vitality, as well.”

Race, religion and nation

MTSO course at Underground Railroad Freedom Center

MTSO will offer a timely and compelling graduate-level course, “Race, Religion and Nation: From Black Power to Black Lives Matter,” at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way in Cincinnati.

Classes will be held Jan. 9-13, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enrollment is open to the public. Tuition and fees for non-degree-seeking students total $2,198. Non-credit auditing is offered for a fee of $200, with a reduced audit fee of $75 for those 60 and older. Space is limited. To enroll, contact Benjamin Hall at 800-333-6876 or

The three-credit-hour course is offered through a cooperative relationship between MTSO and the Freedom Center, forged to promote justice and theologies of freedom. It will analyze the relationship between race, religion and nation through a historical exploration of the Black Lives Matter movement with attention to critical antecedents, including Black Power activism, hip hop music and culture, and the presidency of Barack Obama. MTSO instructor Tejai Beulah, a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. historical studies and an engaging teacher and activist, will lead the course.

“Race, Religion and Nation” is one of several January Term and Spring Semester MTSO courses that provide opportunities for meaningful continuing education. Details on those courses are available at

Faculty-led experience next spring

Alums and friends invited to join Israel/Palestine trip

Alumni and friends of MTSO are invited to join MTSO students and faculty for a cross-cultural trip to Israel/ Palestine May 24-June 7, 2017. Full details, including a downloadable information flier, are here. The trip will be led by Professor John Kampen and Associate Professor Yvonne Zimmerman, with Assistant Professor Ryan Schellenberg accompanying.

The individual cost for the trip will be between $3,600 and $4,100, depending on the number of participants. It includes all breakfasts and dinners as well as three lunches. Also, non-students will be considered auditors and will need to pay the audit fee of $200 for the course ($75 for seniors).

A commitment to the trip and a $200 deposit will be required by Dec. 10. Full payment of the fee for the trip is due Feb. 10. That is also when the school will need your passport information. 

Community Food and Wellness Initiative

Visitors take in the farm

MTSO and Seminary Hill Farm have hosted a number of visitors to campus in recent weeks through the school’s Community Food and Wellness Initiative. The initiative is an educational program that engages Central Ohio churches and community groups on the topics of food and wellness.

Children, their parents and leaders of the Gladden Community House Preschool visited campus for a Farm Field Day Sept. 29. They capped the trip off by assembling their own wood-fired pizzas for lunch.

“This event allowed the kids to explore the diverse land community at Seminary Hill Farm – soil and water, insects and pollinators, plants and produce – and to learn firsthand from the farmers about where food comes from,” said Patrick Kaufmann, project coordinator for the Community Food and Wellness Initiative. “This event was not just a one-off engagement but rather the start of a partnership with Gladden Preschool.”

More photos from the Farm Field Day are on Facebook.

On Oct. 6, MTSO hosted representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Alliance for Fair Food, who spoke to students, faculty and staff at a well-attended Coffee Shop meeting as part of their National Truth Tour. Also in attendance were individuals from Franklinton Gardens, who spent time in the afternoon helping the Seminary Hill farmers with some fall weeding. View photos from Oct. 6 here

New in the Gallery

Quilted mural depicts Underground Railroad

A quilted mural commemorating the Underground Railroad now hangs on the east wall of the Gallery between the Alford Centrum and Dickhaut Library on the MTSO campus. The 8- by 6-foot quilt, titled “Into the Light,” was sketched by MTSO alum Lynda Ryan (MA in Christian Education, ’94) and completed in September 2006 by a number of quilters in the San Antonio, Texas, area.

The quilt, which has been displayed throughout Texas over the past 10 years, was donated to MTSO after Ryan learned of the school’s cooperative relationship with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Ryan offered the quilt as “a visual reminder God is beckoning us all into the light.”

The mural depicts Harriet Tubman guiding escaped slaves through dangerous territories to freedom in Canada during the 19th century. The geometric blocks bordering the top and bottom of the mural recreate a quilt code shared by Ozella McDaniel Williams, whose ancestors used the code, known only to other African-Americans, as a geographic guide to safety.

Mark your calendar

Upcoming campus events

MTSO and the Theological Commons continue to offer a wide array of lectures and presentations. Bookmark the Theological Commons web page to stay up to date on these opportunities for learning and enlightenment.

Williams Institute Lectures
Nov. 1, 7 p.m.
Nov. 2, 10 a.m.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler, who has wide experience in theological education and cross-cultural mission in the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion, will deliver two lectures: "Christian-Muslim Maelstrom: Analyzing and Theologizing a Crisis" and "Christian-Muslim Maelstrom: Building Toward a Viable Future." Currently serving St. Matthew’s Church in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, he specializes in the interaction of gospel and cultures, Christian-Muslim relations, and Christianity in Africa and south Asia. 

Bridging the Gap: Using Technology as a Purpose-Driven Tool
Nov. 17, 1 p.m.

MTSO Educational Technology Coordinator Shannon Harper leads a seminar offering the basics of an online ministry or nonprofit program. The presentation will include both live and Internet-based options for participation, real-time Q&A via chat, printable resources, and web-based options for later viewing.

Compassionate Competency
Nov. 30, 1 p.m.

Alex Shanks, faith organizer for Equality Ohio, leads a workshop on LGBTQ competency and safety within faith communities.

Schooler Institute on Preaching
March 14 and 15, 2017

The 2017 Schooler Institute will be led by Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary. A sought-after preacher and lecturer, Florence is interested in historical, theological, aesthetic and performative dimensions of preaching and the ways it engages other fields and different traditions.


Mount Award recipients honored on Alumni Day

Charles Harrison (at left in the photo) and Brice Balmer were presented the John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards for Distinguished Service, MTSO's highest honor for graduates, at a service of thanksgiving during Alumni Day Oct. 3.

Balmer (M.Div. '73) received the Mount Award for Specialized Ministry. An associate professor of spiritual care and psychotherapy at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in Ontario, he also has served as executive director of Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, a network of faith groups working for greater social justice in Ontario, and he co-founded Interfaith Grand River, which brings the wisdom of many traditions to bear on issues affecting the Kitchener community.

Harrison (M.Div. '86) received the Mount Award for Parish Ministry. He is senior pastor of Barnes United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, where he is well known for his work as president of the board of directors of Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, a faith-based organization working to reduce violence and chronic unemployment, and to promote education.

Alumni Day also featured a lecture by Professor of Worship and Music Robin Knowles Wallace looking back over her 20 years on the MTSO faculty.

Video of the Mount Awards service of thanksgiving, featuring a sermon by Associate Professor Valerie Bridgeman, is here. Photos of Alumni Day are on MTSO's Facebook page.