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News for friends of MTSO
January 2017

March 14 and 15

Anna Carter Florence leads Schooler Institute on Preaching

Anna Carter Florence, the Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary, will lead the Schooler Institute on Preaching Tuesday, March 14, and Wednesday, March 15, at MTSO. The theme is “Come Back When You’ve Found Something True: New Ways to Encounter Scripture.” Sessions run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 14 and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 15. A complimentary lunch will be served both days.

Thanks to the generosity of the Schooler Family Foundation, the event is offered to the public without cost. Advance registration is required. More information and an online registration form are available here. MTSO is offering one CEU credit for a $25 administrative processing fee.

Florence will invite Schooler Institute participants to consider the world of theater as a model for how we read scripture together. In addition to delivering three lectures and leading workshops, she will preach at chapel both days.

A sought-after preacher, teacher and lecturer in this country and abroad, Florence is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale College and a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. 

Before joining the Columbia faculty in 1998, Florence served as associate pastor for youth and young adults at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Her books include Preaching as Testimony and Inscribing the Word. Her current project is “A” is for Alabaster: A Preacher’s Alphabet.

Funding from the Wabash Center

Grant furthers work in theology, ecology and race

MTSO has been awarded a $30,000 grant to fund a two-year project, “Theology, Ecology and Race: Crucial Intersections for Innovative Education.” The project is made possible by a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and located at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

With funding from the grant, MTSO will expand and enhance its teaching and identity around sustainable environmental justice. The project’s goals include:

  • Raising consciousness among students, faculty and staff about the interplay of race and ecology.
  • Meeting with students and alumni focus groups to develop a vocational vision for ecology in the classroom, parish and broader community.
  • Inspiring faculty to encourage engagement with issues of ecology and racism across the curriculum.
  • Identifying and challenging environmental racism, food insecurity and the impacts of climate change on marginalized communities.
  • Encouraging students to make engagement with ecological ideas central to their work after graduation.
  • Inviting representatives from other theological schools to explore ways to weave commitments to racial and ecological justice throughout courses and degree programs.

“This grant allows us to do significant work within the institution to ground our mission in core values, which we hope will increase our contribution to conversation and action beyond our campus,” said project director Timothy Van Meter, associate professor in the Alford Chair of Christian Education and Youth Ministry at MTSO.

Over the coming two years, MTSO will design new ways of integrating learning with the school’s Seminary Hill Farm and its staff, and it will offer stipends for faculty members to develop curricula that intersect ecology and race with more traditional courses. MTSO also plans to offer teaching-learning sessions for pastors, community activists and nonprofit leaders, bringing together ecology, anti-racism and theology.

The grant period will culminate in the publication of articles and perhaps larger publications featuring the work of MTSO faculty members and colleagues from partner schools.

Lunchtime session Feb. 7

Workshop offers implicit bias training

MTSO will offer a lunchtime implicit bias training workshop from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 7 in Dunn Dining Hall. Lunch will be provided. Cost for the workshop and lunch is $10. An advance RSVP is required of all participants. RSVP here.

Throughout our lives, we are exposed to millions of messages about the world around us – messages that shape our perceptions of people, places, concepts and ideas. As a result, we possess implicit associations that operate unconsciously outside our awareness and often conflict with our explicit beliefs. This workshop will equip participants with a deeper understanding of our unconscious mental processing and the ways in which these implicit associations impact our decision-making.

Training will be led by Lena Tenney and Robin A. Wright, researchers and facilitation specialists at Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

This workshop is presented by the Theological Commons at MTSO, which promotes the sharing of knowledge and experience between students, faculty, clergy and the public for the benefit of all participants and those they serve.

Feb. 15 Theological Commons event

Presentation covers end-of-life conversations

End-of-life conversations can be among the most difficult and important that family members, caregivers and faith-community leaders undertake. MTSO will offer tools for having these discussions in a presentation at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Alford Centrum.

Rev. Kristin Langstraat, system director for faith community relations at OhioHealth, will lead the presentation and discussion “Talking About What Matters Most: End-of-Life Conversations.” The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

What is the value of talking with loved ones and congregants about end of life? How do we have these conversations? And why are they so hard? Langstraat and chaplaincy colleagues from OhioHealth will offer a presentation and lead discussions around these and other questions.

Resources will be offered, along with tools participants can use both personally and professionally. Small-group discussions will provide insight on the experiences of others and generate ideas for how to talk about these important matters in a timely, sensitive and meaningful way.

This presentation is offered by the Theological Commons.

Feb. 22 event

‘Opioids and Heroin: The Sins of Our Past’

How can we as individuals and a community confront the opioid epidemic that has gripped the state of Ohio? Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team at the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, will address the issue in a presentation at MTSO.

The presentation, “Opioids and Heroin: The Sins of Our Past,” begins at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Alford Centrum. It is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

Boxill, who holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Ministries degree from MTSO, monitors service delivery, assists in writing policy, interprets federal and state laws and regulations to ensure compliance, and assists in coalition building to address the opioid epidemic across the state. Her presentation will focus on the opioid epidemic, the history of the drug, its effects on society and how the community should respond.  

This presentation is offered by the Theological Commons.

Conference in Pittsburgh

MTSO sponsors Thrive conference

MTSO and the Western Pennsylvania Conference Committee on Higher Education and Campus Ministry are primary sponsors of Thrive: Ministry on the Edge, offering pastors and church leaders new ideas and tools for ministry. The conference will be held April 30-May 2 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree.

Registration is open for the conference, with a special price of $400 through April 10. Two continuing education units are available to each participant. Online registration and conference details are at

Christianity grew up on the edge of society, and ministry was shaped in dangerous places. Thrive offers inspiration and practical help for those who continue to minister to those on the edge.

Running from Sunday evening through Tuesday afternoon, Thrive features keynote speaker Sara Miles, director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and author of Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. Other speakers include MTSO Associate Professor of Christian Education and Youth Ministry Timothy Van Meter.