The In Trust Center for Theological Schools started as an idea in the 1980s with the publishing of the In Trust magazine to provide support and information to the increasing number of North American theological schools. This publication eventually transformed into a magazine-style format, which laid the foundation for the broader scope of the In Trust Center.

Throughout the years, our mission has evolved and expanded. While initially focused on delivering programs and resources for governing and advisory boards, it has subsequently grown to assist all stakeholders, who are invested in the vitality and mission of theological education.

We remain poised as a central hub, providing valuable services to leaders in theological education for years to come.

Key Markers in Our History


Robert W. Lynn of Lilly Endowment Inc. invites J.L. Zwingle, retired from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, to meet with Christa R. Klein, Lilly Endowment’s consultant on theological school governance, to help develop the idea of publishing an occasional periodical for seminary trustees and other “friends of theological education.”


In Trust advisory board is formed with The Reverend Vincent de Paul Cushing, OFM, president of Washington Theological Union, serving as its first chair.

First collection of essays on theological education is compiled and sent to seminary presidents.

Advisory board becomes editorial council and selects William R. MacKaye to edit the occasional periodical; he proposes a magazine format and suggests the name, In Trust.

An editorial council releases the inaugural installment in what would be a “series of occasional papers on issues surrounding theological education.” 


In Trust becomes a quarterly publication. Circulation extends to all trustees associated with North American theological schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.


In Trust incorporates as a nonprofit organization and becomes In Trust, Inc., a publisher and provider of other educational resources.


In Trust expands to meet the growing needs of governing boards. The introduction of Good Governance Seminars draws the participation of presidents and board leaders. These seminars persist for the following decade.


Governance Mentor program launches; In Trust, Inc. mentors engage with boards and presidents within the first two years to service, providing onsite development.


In Trust circulation reaches 7,300; more than three quarters of all accredited theological schools in North America are now members of In Trust.


Webinars are launched, expanding educational opportunities for leaders and board members in a learning community environment.


Lilly Endowment Inc. awards In Trust with a transformational grant to support the mission by creating a center for theological education. In Trust is renamed as the In Trust Center for Theological Schools.


The In Trust Center launches Resource Consulting, a one-on-one consultation service designed to support, guide, and connect leaders to access resources suited to their needs.


The In Trust Center is awarded its first coordination grant to support strengthening fundraising and building capacity within six historically Black Theological Schools.


The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust awards the In Trust Center its first grant to support board development via the Wise Stewards Initiative.


Resource Grants are launched to support schools as they invest in innovation and experimentation.


In Trust magazine earns Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press.

Lilly Endowment Inc. awards the In Trust Center a coordination grant to support the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative.


With funding from The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Good Governance Podcast is launched to create new means of access to insights, trends, and conversation on key topics in the field of theological education.

Today, the InTrust Center provides more than 240 institutions with a spectrum of services and programs, including Resource Consulting, learning communities, publications, and grant-funded initiatives.

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