"Organization is reorganization, and that’s all there is to it.” Those memorable words I heard from J. Irwin Miller (1909–2004), chief executive and chair of the Cummins Engine Company, philanthropist, seminary trustee, and lover of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Wise in business, his words also echo a theological sensibility to the provisional nature of human accomplishment.
In nearly a quarter-century of service, In Trust has organized and reorganized several times. Begun in 1988 as a series of “occasional papers” for “friends of theological education,” In Trust became a quarterly in 1992, sent freely to board members and administrators of North American theological schools. We grew into a nonprofit organization in 1994 and quickly assembled “patron” contributions from 150 schools and grant support from several foundations, in addition to continuing support from Lilly Endowment, Inc.
By 1996, In Trust offered annual seminars on good governance for teams of presidents and board leaders, and soon we had developed our first assessment tools to provide participants with an institutional snapshot. In 2004, we developed our Governance Mentor service and Governance Helpline to provide direct assistance to individual boards and administrators. An interactive website and a membership program continued to deepen our connections with theological schools.
In 2009, In Trust reorganized as a full membership corporation with a board elected by member institutions. By this time, we had also garnered foundation support for an annual Writer Workshop (to coach a select group of writers about the “governance angle” in theological education) and for a semiannual Governance Mentor Symposium (to enhance the knowledge and abilities of our experienced group of mentors).
Most recently, a webinar series has provided broader access to new resources on governance and leadership. And a new initiative, now in the planning stages, will make In Trust an even larger hub for resources, mentoring, and coaching as we collaborate with peer organizations to provide access to the best thinking and research about theological education and independent higher education.
I’ve been blessed by my connection to In Trust during all these years — especially over the last nine as I’ve served as president. The presidents and boards of our member schools have made In Trust a community of the faithful. Foundation officers and program directors have supported new projects. Staff members have shouldered the demands of a modest organization and its large mission with passion and integrity. Donors have caught the vision and given generously. Our own board has attended to the various threats and opportunities along the way with zeal and wisdom.
This column is called “Wing on Wing” — an allusion to a thrilling but dangerous sailing technique in which the foresail and mainsail are spread out like open arms, driving the boat ahead with maximum wind. Over the last nine years, In Trust has spread its sails and navigated currents in dangerous winds. We’ve re-rigged, bailed the bilge, avoided shoals, and taken out for the deep. I’ve loved being at the helm, but I am happy to move aside as interim president Douglass Lewis and our board prepare for the next voyage.
These nine years also bracket much history for the Klein family. Three children and spouses have grown into mature adulthood; five grandchildren now grace the family table. My husband and I have moved into the large communion of the Catholic Church. Our four parents have passed from this life to the next. And now I am discerning my calling for this new chapter of life. I will continue to cherish the company of fellow believers made known through In Trust. My course, too, is provisional, but grace for the journey abounds.