MTSO Strategic Plan

Adopted by the Board of Trustees Oct. 28, 2016

OUR MISSION

MTSO provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world.

OUR VISION AND PURPOSE

MTSO is a vibrant, diverse, inclusive community that faithfully engages the intersections of church, society and academy to prepare leaders for ministry and service in pursuit of a transformed world. Celebrating and appropriating the scriptures, traditions and myriad experiences of Christian faith in an open and challenging formational community, we cultivate learning for ministry and service.

OUR DISTINCTIVENESS

MTSO is deeply committed to transformative, sustaining justice as an expansive theological vision consistent with the creative, renewing, resurrecting activity of God in the world. To this end, we create a new imagination for the church of the future through creative work in institutional programs, relationships and resources to promote equity, justice and integrity. We intentionally connect with social justice movements that attend to sustainable social change, transforming both church and world.

INTRODUCTION TO OUR APPROACH

A fundamental principle for us is to live and articulate our understanding that we are rooted in the Church. Reaching into a rapidly changing world, MTSO affirms its Christian identity as a seminary in the Wesleyan family, committed to conversation and interaction with people, communities and movements of many perspectives and faith traditions. Devoted to our longstanding motto, “To Preach the Word,” we prepare and invigorate extraordinary leaders for pastoral ministry. Aware of dynamic changes in the religious and spiritual lives of people in the 21st century, we also embrace our responsibility to educate for new vocations.

We seek to claim and proclaim our enduring commitment to academic excellence and take seriously our responsibility for the intellectual life of the Church and the emotional and spiritual health of individuals in communities. Faithful to our history of acting and teaching for social justice, we offer the world around us leaders who will make a significant difference for good in the communities they will lead and serve. We do this through teaching and forming pastoral counselors, ministers, nonprofit leaders and local church laity within a variety of theological traditions.

“Sustainable justice” is a central institutional commitment, reflected in our curricular foci, our public conversations, our community ethos, and our sense of place and context. This commitment is also a call to the church to proclaim and promote the Gospel’s values of justice, community and stewardship of God’s creation in our era of division and inequality. Additionally, a transforming, sustainable justice lens creates space for partnerships new to MTSO and for significant platforms for leadership in theological education as a whole.

This distinguishing focus generates energy in the faculty, staff, student body and student recruits.

In light of this commitment, we endeavor to build and sustain connection with peer institutions and movements with shared values. To that end, we see our school and campus as a hub for relationship and interactivity with others regarding theological concerns for the intersections of ecology, race, gender, class, economics and the importance of place.

OUR INTENT IN PLANNING

This plan assumes that a process of strategic navigation and planning will need to be part of an ongoing conversation, among representative stewards and stakeholders. It reflects the current direction and commitments of the school and projects a pathway for further implementation and advancement. We acknowledge the rapidly changing context in which we seek to fulfill our mission, and we value the nimble nature of our community, which is a unique asset for engaging a dynamic world. While we have a five- to seven-year horizon in mind as we look ahead, we expect to renew and even reshape the plan at least every three years. An addendum with specific and assessable action steps for each academic/fiscal year will be presented for adoption at the Spring Board Meeting of the previous year.

OUR PLAN

Goal One: Develop and Augment Institutional Identity and Vocation.

Objectives:

  • Engage regularly in curricular and programmatic conversation for deepening academic excellence and intellectual inquiry in all theological disciplines and programs; further discern and develop our institutional distinctiveness.

  • Develop Theological Commons programming as a primary means for connection among students, faculty, alumni and the public to create and further theological work and knowledge in church and society and to develop and promote our institutional distinctiveness.
  • Conduct regular assessment of programs to enable discernment of ever-developing mission for the purpose of further institutional self-awareness and vision.
  • Commit to challenging and healing divisions in our world based on racism, sexism, heterosexism, able-ism, and religious or cultural difference by offering education and training to do this work.
  • Retain and enhance institutional innovation and flexibility to advance in a dynamic society without losing our core identity.

Goal Two: Prioritize and Develop Institutional Programs to Empower the Mission.

Objectives:

  • Align the theological curriculum to create a sustainably just world through studies in heritage, intellectual inquiry, spiritual formation, and informed and hospitable action with sustainable justice foci in terms of eco-theology, economics, social locations, abilities, immigration and refugee status, sexualities, and theological understandings of students and the constituencies they serve.
  • Build on the Connections M.Div. program to further develop our ability to offer innovative and relevant approaches to education for pastoral ministry, chaplaincy, non-profit leadership and community organizing.
  • Seek distinctive, entrepreneurial opportunities for practical ministry in churches, nonprofit organizations, community organizations, counseling centers, and movements for justice and sustainability.
  • Plan to become a significant place for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and education as the need for theological schools to expand horizons continues to grow.
  • Further enhance technological capability and innovation, providing educational connection in regional, national and international networks in order to continue to build connection with church bodies, partner organizations and peer schools.

Goal Three: Build and Enhance Institutional Relationships and Resources to Enable the Mission.

Objectives:

  • Engage partnerships and relationships that further the vision and mission of MTSO in connection with other academic institutions and movements within and beyond the church.
  • Attract students who will further the vision for a sustainable, just church and world through their vocational ministries and service.
  • Commit to financial development and investment that aligns with MTSO values and invites partners to help shape and fund theologically based innovation and vision.
  • Commit to sustainable campus development and energy use aligning with MTSO’s mission and vision.
  • Further develop a strategic communications plan that that engages current and potential stakeholders, including alumni, churches, partner institutions and the general public through frequent and comprehensive use of social and other media for the purpose of increasing enrollment and financial development.