News & Insights

February 29, 2024

Seeing the world
through a clear lens

Several years ago at Vancouver School of Theology, the board told its president, the Rev. Dr. Richard Topping, that he needed a hobby. Topping took up photography, and his hobby – photographing wildlife in British Columbia – is stunning. (That's his shot above.) But Topping’s thoughts on what a hobby has done – and how photography can be an analogy for theology – are just as sharp. See more photos and read the essay, “Theology Through the Lens,” here.  Also in the winter issue:
  • Right relations: In Trust Center President Amy Kardash says developing strong relationships among senior leaders at a school – president, board chair, and board – is vital for success. See how those can be cultivated here. 
  • Impassioned integrity: William MacKaye was a man for all seasons – committed to his faith, the craft of journalism, and theological education. He served as the founding editor of In Trust magazine. Read reflections on his life here. 
Full issue: You can read the magazine on the In Trust Center website. 

Leadership, innovation, and what's ahead

The Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, and Amy Kardash, president of the In Trust Center, kick off a new podcast series, "Inside Theological Education," discussing current trends, including leadership turnover, innovation, hope, the ATS Biennial, and the In Trust Center's Governance Initiative. Listen to Episode 58 of the Good Governance podcast here. 

Be sure to
subscribe to the Good Governance podcast to find the latest in news, insights, and thought leadership in theological education. Recent episodes include:

  • Intercultural competency: Notre Dame University is working to help create cross-cultural competency in lay and vocational ministry students. In this episode, Professor Stacey Noem discusses how the School of Theology is preparing students for their calling with a new program. Listen to Episode 57 of the podcast here. 
  • Bringing in new students: At Lexington Theological Seminary, the team is using prior-learning assessments and other means to help students gain access to theological education and graduate degrees. The Rev. Dr. Loida Martell, vice president for academic affairs and dean, discusses ways the school is helping students answer their callings. Listen to Episode 56 of the podcast here
You can find more episodes on the In Trust Center's website. 

Must-see webinars for leaders

This coming week, we'll host a webinar that you and your team will want to see. In Closing the Trust Gap: Taking Action on What Matters MostCory Scheer, Ed.D., will discuss a ground-breaking survey on trust and provide ways to build trust. Using years of experience as a college administrator and pastor, Scheer will equip you with next steps and how to build a framework of trust. The hour-long webinar on Tuesday, March 5, at 1 p.m. ET is good for the whole team. Register for the webinar here.

Find links and a host of on-demand webinars by clicking here.

Resource Grants provide help for schools

The In Trust Center offers $15,000 matching grants to help member schools experiment and try new projects important to their institutions. Schools have engaged in a variety of projects, including new pedagogies and programs, research, consultant engagement, and marketing and communications. You can learn more with an on-demand webinar here. You can also find guidelines and more details about the grant here. The application closes on April 17.

New Governance Initiative survey coming

The In Trust Center was awarded a multi-year grant by Lilly Endowment, Inc., to support a Governance Initiative over the next five years. The initiative is in response to trends including accelerated executive leadership transition, complexities related to institutional culture, and increasing pressures on boards to provide continuity and stability in ways they have not in the past. 
We seek to explore three big questions:
  1. What does governance need to look like? 
  2. What are the practices and models that are needed? 
  3. How do we best offer support?
The In Trust Center will begin to explore these complex questions first via a research project in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). In March 2024, a quantitative-focused survey will be sent to all executive leaders at ATS-accredited free-standing and embedded schools. Via this survey, we seek to gather information and data on current board demographics and practices on the board as a whole body. In addition, a survey will be sent to all governing board members at free-standing schools and all advisory board members at embedded institutions to gain insight on individual experiences. 

You can learn more here. 
Duke offers Reflective Leadership Grants

In 2024, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity plans to award upwards of 30 Reflective Leadership Grants, which provide Christian leaders “balcony time” to reflect on accomplishments, broaden perspectives and discern next steps.
Leadership Education welcomes applicants who serve in a range of leadership roles, from project director to senior administrator, and who are working in a variety of organizations, including denominations, seminaries, church-related colleges, consultancies, congregations, Christian nonprofits, Christian social enterprises, and others. The application deadline is May 28, 2024. Learn more and sign up for a Q&A session.
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Upcoming Events

The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.

I See That Hand


Board members are typically recruited for their leadership, business acumen, and networks. Dr. Rebekah Basinger, project director of the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative, will discuss how strategic questioning and interrogation skills are essential for effective board stewardship.

Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education


In this on-demand webinar, Rick Staisloff, senior partner of rpk GROUP, discusses essential aspects of strategic partnerships. This session delves into current trends, identification of partners, navigating the due diligence process, and common challenges.

Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.


In Trust Center provides Resource Consulting to our members at no charge. Contact us today and let us guide you to the most helpful resources for your situation.

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