Illustration by Dan Williams
I’ve just returned from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Biennial gathering in Pittsburgh. It’s been four long years since ATS’s membership has gathered in person, four years punctuated by a worldwide pandemic, political upheaval, and social turmoil, and so it was quite fitting that this year’s theme was A Better Future Together. This event is a time for theological school leaders – presidents, principals, embedded school deans, project directors, and academic officers, among others – to meet, to learn with one another, to enjoy fellowship, work together, and celebrate as co-laborers in God’s kingdom.
A Better Future Together is a call to a more mindful approach to what may lie ahead. What might we accomplish if we approach our work proactively? How might we find opportunities to collaborate as peers? To build alliances? To advance one another’s missions? And to lift up each other as leaders, learners, and students of the Gospel? Better together means supporting peers and colleagues in a broad learning community.
A better future also depends on strong leadership – in theological schools and in the churches they serve. Strong leadership requires that those called to serve are identified, mentored, supported, and cared for along their leadership journey. This includes a focus on mental health, as one pastor suggests in “In the Tangle of the Mind”.
Trusted sages and guides on the path can form a critical network along the way, particularly for Latina leaders who occupy few executive positions. A new mentoring program from the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI) seeks to support these emerging leaders with discernment and wisdom.
Perhaps one of the most challenging places to find support for leadership is among board members and, more specifically, board chairs. These leaders rarely have access to fellow board chairs serving other institutions, and there are scant opportunities to connect in a learning community that supports their unique roles. The In Trust Center has identified this need, and later this summer will launch a regular newsletter directly to board chairs with the goal of enhancing effective leadership through community.
Would your board benefit from working together with board members from other schools? Let us know.
In this issue, I hope you find an article, quote, or theme that inspires you and makes you feel that we are, indeed, better together.