New to the Board
As a fairly new (1.5 years) board member of Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan, I read with interest (and, I must confess, a certain “envy”!) the story of Steven L. McKinley (In Trust, Autumn 1998, “A New Board Member Finds His Footing”). He has seemingly experienced the best orientation possible for a newcomer to the strange world of seminary board “membering.” I appreciated his description of the cross-cultural adventure many of us are plunged into when we go from church ministry to seminary board ministry. It was a relief to discover that my experience was not unique.
The transition from lay ministry in French Québec to English seminary education at CTS in 1980 had been in itself quite a shift in language and structures. My entrance three years later into full-time vocational pastoral ministry was another such experience. Fourteen years later, the adaptation from pastoral and theological education ministry in Québec to board ministry in Saskatchewan has been just as challenging. In the words of Roy Oswald of the Alban Institute, I was once again “crossing the boundary,” but this time from church leadership to seminary leadership. While I have met with the best possible people to serve with on a board, I have had to accept that it will take time to understand, appreciate and, where necessary, influence the seminary culture towards a greater accountability (in my opinion, McKinley asks the real questions in his sidebar on page 9: Can the present model of theological education prepare the leaders the church needs in the coming century? We need to take a closer look not only at our delivery methods, but at our teaching and learning models of theological education.)
Surrounded by quote marks though it was, I did speak of “envy.” The mentoring McKinley received is the ideal most of us look for when we encounter new situations. My arrival on the board in October 1997 coincided with the arrival (after what must have seemed a long interim) of our new president, Dr. George Durance, and the restructuring of the board from twenty-four members to twelve. In such circumstances mentoring was a dream. I remember how our president took us new board members on a tour of the facility. At that time, I seemed to know the people and buildings at least as well as he did (I had spent three years as a CTS student). However, he wholeheartedly expressed his desire to have us become full participants in the board, and this is happening.
Don’t get me wrong. There were some key events in my first year that were most helpful to my growth and training. One has been the privilege of staying with key seminary professors or personnel during my visits. Another has been the hours spent with our president in my own home as well as participating last autumn, with him and two other board members, in an excellent three-day In Trust seminar on “Practicing Good Faith Governance.” It was during this time that I became conscious of the legitimacy, necessity, and payoff for board members to focus not only upon the needs and call of the seminary but to invest in equipping themselves for the ministry the church and school have called them to. The highly qualified onsite consultants provided by In Trust; the seminar structure that permitted us to deal with our unique situation and needs as a board; the plenary sessions that gave us eyes to see what was happening in other schools and theological education at large; the interactive approach among the various seminaries: all contributed to provide a safe as well as inspirational framework that set the stage for focused reflection on strategic planning.
Admittedly, envy is not the best word to describe my feelings, for envy wants to “possess” the advantages the other has. Envy harbors spite towards those who are “better off.” Rather, I rejoice with Steven L. McKinley and those like him who serve as trustees of our seminaries. Having read of his experience, I am already better off. Even more important, I understand that change is possible and that it begins with me. At Canadian Theological Seminary, we are not yet arrived, but we press forward to become the kind of board community that will more and more honor the Lord of the church, the Lord of the school and the Lord of the governing board. And guess what? I’m already looking out for the new(er) members who will join the CTS board in 1999!
Québec , Québec
John Martin, a member of the board of Canadian Theological Seminary, Regina, Saskatchewan, is director of the Institut Biblique V.I.E. in Québec . He is currently preparing to defend his Ph.D. thesis at University Laval in Québec .
Correcting the Record
In the Spring 1998 issue of In Trust, it is stated in "Balance Sheet" that the long-term investments of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary decreased by 68.8 percent from 1996 to 1997. When I saw it, I realized immediately that the 1997 amount was incorrect. I checked my copy of the ATS report from which this figure was taken and discovered that I had reversed the figures in lines 8 and 9 of Form 1. Line 8 should be $2,153,152. Line 9 should read $8,488,273.
Virgil Claassen is director of business and finance at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart. In Trust regrets delaying the publication of this correction.