In March 2019, the In Trust Center hosted a seminar entitled “Governance as an Agent for Change,” its first governance seminar under the new Wise Stewards Initiative, funded in part by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Project leader Rebekah Burch Basinger and teams of four from each of the participating schools, along with faculty coaches and In Trust Center staff, gathered in Vancouver, Washington, to engage in a robust two days of governance work, peer sharing, and networking.

Topics for the seminar were selected for their relevance to the participating schools and their connection to key principles in the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Guide, which is available at These included: governing in uncharted territory; dealing with fear, anxiety, and angst in the boardroom; changing a school’s narrative; strategic plans; institutional finances;board bylaws; and the board chair-president relationship. Keynote speakers (who presented either in person or by live video feed) included: Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains; Gordon Smith, president of Ambrose University; Molly Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary; and Rod Wilson, former president of Regent College.

The In Trust Center has found that boards struggle to prioritize strategic conversation and identifying potential threats while at the same time practicing shared governance. The Wise Stewards Initiative provides boards and presidents with the space to connect with other seminary leaders and form larger learning communities to discuss strategic issues. The initiative has now entered phase three, in which each school receives follow-up coaching and Resource Consulting services to help board members address their plans for development.

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