University, Seminary Boards Approve Agreement to Establish Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University

Kathryn A. Kit KleinhansCOLUMBUS, OH. Monday, Nov. 6, 2017–The boards of Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary have approved an agreement to unify the institutions and establish Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University, effective Jan. 1, 2018. View a recording of the event at www.capital.edu/live or Facebook.com/CapitalU.

Driven by an alignment in mission and strong belief that, united, the institutions can have greater positive impact on the world than they can achieve separately, Capital and Trinity announced on Nov. 7, 2016, their mutual intent to pursue a common, secure and sustainable future by uniting their institutions. Together, Capital and Trinity can form leaders who are change agents in a world in dire need of exceptional education at the intersection of intellectual, social, personal and spiritual preparation to empower citizens who will lead for the sake of the world.

After a year of bold thinking about the future, innovation and exhaustive integrative work, the vision for a unified Capital University with Trinity Lutheran Seminary is clearly in sight. Capital’s board approved the legal agreement to unite Capital and Trinity at its meeting Thursday, Nov. 2, and Trinity’s board approved the same agreement at its meeting Friday, Nov. 3.

“This is a momentous moment in our shared history, and in our future together as one institution,” Capital President Elizabeth L. Paul, Ph.D., said. “One year ago, the seminary’s long-term future was uncertain. But we stood together. Understanding the world’s deep need for transformative theological and higher education; compelled by our calling to prepare our graduates for lives, work, ministries and legacies of purpose, we stood together. And we declared we would create a sustainable path forward. Today, I am proud to stand before you and say with confidence: The seminary’s future is secure.”  

In addition to board approval, the union also has been endorsed by the Association of Theological Schools. Final approval from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ohio Department of High Education and Higher Learning Commission is anticipated later this month.

“Working in partnership with ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and the Church Council, our Region 6 Synod Bishops, and our site review team from the Higher Learning Commission, this vision is becoming a reality,” Paul said. “I am filled with gratitude for the encouragement and deep insight our partners have brought to this work. To the hundreds of faculty, staff, alumni and donors whose belief in the impact we can have together on our students and the world, you have worked tirelessly and sacrificially to make this happen. This is your moment. Thank you.”

Capital and Trinity also announced the new entity, called Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University, will begin operations Jan. 1 under the visionary leadership of a newly appointed dean, the Rev. Kathryn A. “Kit” Kleinhans, Ph.D.

Kleinhans will join the Capital family in January 2018, after serving 24 years on the faculty of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. The first woman hired to teach religion full time at Wartburg, she was named the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission in 2013.

“My sense of calling, as a pastor and as a teacher, has always been to serve the church. The coming together of Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Capital University will provide unique opportunities to extend Trinity’s mission of ‘forming leaders for Christ's church at work in the world’ in new and exciting ways,” Kleinhans said. “I am equally excited by the promise that Trinity’s new institutional home as part of Capital University will create opportunities to enhance student learning and development through the integration of theological thinking in other areas and programs of the University. In addition to forming leaders for the church, we will contribute to the education of theologically informed leaders for all contexts of life and work. I look forward to contributing my gifts and experience to this vibrant community as we move forward together.”

Kleinhans earned a bachelor’s degree in Theology from Valparaiso University, a Master of Divinity from Christ Seminary – Seminex and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and a doctorate in Theological Studies from Emory University. She chaired Wartburg’s Religion and Philosophy Department from 1999-2010 and primarily taught classes in Christian theology and church history, with an emphasis on Martin Luther and the theology and history of the Reformation.

The Rev. Dr. Stanley Olson, interim president of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, has known Kleinhans for many years, including his work with her during his days as president of Wartburg Theological Seminary. He described her as “one of our most-gifted advocates for seeing life as vocation.”

“Kit is intrigued with a God who engages the world – and with the world that God engages,” Olson said. “She has a heart for students, and will provide visionary and collaborative leadership for Trinity and Capital as they discover continuities and newness in their linked missions.”

Kleinhans is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with which Capital University is affiliated. Before her tenure at Wartburg, she was a pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Atlanta, Georgia.

She has served the ELCA at the national level in several capacities: member of the Program Committee of the ELCA’s Vocation and Education unit; chair of the Addressing Social Concerns Review process; member of the Stewards of Abundance project focused on reducing seminary student indebtedness; member of the Women and Justice Task Force; and as a member of the Entrance Rite Discernment Group for the ELCA’s new Word and Service roster.

Shared History of Capital and Trinity

Capital and Trinity share a beautiful mission and history of educating leaders for the church and the world. Our history began in 1830 with the founding of the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary (ELTS) in Ohio. It continued in 1850 with the charter of Capital University, broadening the reach and mission of the seminary to include general education for all. From 1830 to 1959, Capital and ELTS were united behind that shared mission as one institution, and only separated at the direction of the American Lutheran Church. While separated from Capital University, then-ELTS joined in 1978 with Hamma School of Theology to form a single Lutheran seminary in Ohio — Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Side by side, Capital University and Trinity have remained collaborative in academics, student support and service, but have done so informally.

The church since has changed its policy, creating an opportunity for the union of Capital and Trinity, which would formalize a relationship that has been in place for decades. This union heightens a renewed connection to the institutions’ Lutheran values and purpose. The union will strengthen identity and create distinction. Together, Trinity with Capital can excel at:

-      Mission for the sake of the world – educating and forming a new generation of faith-informed leaders for the emerging world.

-      Leading cutting-edge pedagogy in interdisciplinary degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels via multiple modes of delivery to reach more potential students.

-      Delivering relevant experiences, events, and speakers on our campuses and across the globe that inspire students to impact the community and our world.

-      Forming leaders with an ethic of inclusivity and with ecological passion and commitment.

Uniting Trinity with Capital will support strong institutional identity and educational excellence. Success is reliant on a sustainable business model, which is achieved by developing new revenue streams through gifts and grants, diversifying tuition revenue streams through new, interdisciplinary programs, optimizing use of property, buildings and other physical assets, and integrating operations and eliminating redundancies. 
 

The Rev. Dr. Stanley N. Olson Named Interim President of Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Stanley-Olson-600x600
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Friday, July 7, 2017 – The Rev. Dr. Stanley N. Olson has been named interim president of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Capital University and the Seminary announced today. The Seminary’s Board of Directors passed a resolution Friday morning electing Olson to a five-month term as president, effective August 1 through December 31, 2017. Trinity’s current president, the Rev. Dr. Rick Barger, announced in May 2016 he would retire in August 2017, concluding a dynamic and influential four-year term. 

“Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s Board of Directors took an important step today in ensuring steady leadership for the seminary and advancing its reunion with Capital University,” Trinity’s board chair, Carrie Cubberley, said. “Dr. Olson will ensure a seamless leadership transition as we build toward a bold future with Capital University.” 

An experienced leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its seminaries, Olson will provide strong leadership for Trinity and will be another driving force in constructing a stable foundation for the Seminary’s re-integration with neighboring Capital University. Capital and Trinity announced last November they would pursue a reunion of the two institutions. Under the new structure, which upon board approval will take effect January 1, 2018, Trinity will become the seminary of Capital University, and will be led by a dean. A search for the dean is under way.

“With an uncommon breadth of academic, church, pastoral and governance experience, Dr. Olson will advance the Capital-Trinity integration process and continue to lead the academic excellence for which Trinity’s programs are nationally recognized,” Capital President Beth Paul said. “He will sharpen our work as our communities fuse together to re-engineer operations, develop innovative programs, and shape student experiences that advance our shared mission and society.”

“With an uncommon breadth of academic, church, pastoral and governance experience, Dr. Olson will advance the Capital-Trinity integration process and continue to lead the academic excellence for which Trinity’s programs are nationally recognized.”


- Dr. Elizabeth Paul, Capital University President

Olson retired in 2015 from the presidency of Wartburg Theological Seminary, in Iowa, where he had served since 2011. Prior to his election as president, Olson was executive director for vocation and education from 2005 to 2011, and executive director for ministry from 2002 to 2005 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

An ordained pastor in the ELCA since 1976, the Reverend served First Lutheran Church, in Duluth, Minn., taught New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and was senior pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minn., prior to answering the call to serve as bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod from 1994 to 2002. He has served on the boards of St. Olaf College, Waldorf College, Luther Seminary and Gustavus Adolphus College, among other governance and consultation posts.

“I am honored to accept the call to lead this distinguished seminary of the ELCA in a time of transition,” Olson said. “The world is in great need of the kind of leaders Trinity has formed and will form through exceptional theological education. Now, with renewed and deepened ties to Capital University, Trinity will continue its faithful and imaginative work, discovering ways to serve even more learners, from different walks of life, in diverse disciplines and vocations, and at many points in life. I am eager to work with faculty, board, administration and others so that together we can sustain the mission and carry forward the good work of reuniting these institutions for the sake of the world.” 

Olson holds masters and doctoral degrees from Yale, a Master of Divinity from Luther Theological Seminary, and bachelor’s and associate’s degrees from St. Olaf and Waldorf colleges, respectively. Olson is married to Nancy L. Olson who is an ELCA Deacon. They are the parents of two adult daughters and grandparents to four.

About the Capital-Trinity Reunion 
Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary have been working toward reunion since November 2016. The intent to pursue reunion is driven by an alignment in mission and strong belief that, reunited, the institutions can have greater positive impact on the world than they can achieve separately. Together, Capital and Trinity can form leaders who are change agents in a world in dire need of exceptional education at the intersection of intellectual, social, personal and spiritual preparation to empower citizens who will lead for the sake of the world.

From 1830 to 1959, Capital and Trinity were united behind a shared mission as one institution, and only separated at the direction of the American Lutheran Church. They remained collaborative in academics, student support and service, but have done so informally. The church since has changed its policy, creating an opportunity for a reunion of Capital and Trinity. Reuniting formalizes a relationship that has been in place for decades, with the added shared gifts and rich heritage brought by Hamma Divinity School.

This reunion heightens a renewed connection to the institutions’ Lutheran heritage and purpose. The union will strengthen identity and create distinction. Together, Trinity with Capital can excel at: 

  • Mission for the sake of the world – educating and forming a new generation of faith-informed leaders for the emerging world. 
  • Leading cutting-edge pedagogy in interdisciplinary degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels via multiple modes of delivery to reach more potential students. 
  • Delivering relevant experiences, events, and speakers on our campuses and across the globe that inspire students to impact the community and our world. 
  • Forming leaders with an ethic of inclusivity and with ecological passion and commitment.
The reunion will support strong institutional identity and educational excellence. The success of the reunion is reliant on the development of a sustainable business model, which can be achieved by developing new revenue streams through gifts and grants, diversifying tuition revenue streams through new, interdisciplinary programs, optimizing use of property, buildings and other physical assets, and integrating operations and eliminating redundancies.

Nelson W. Trout Lectures

April 27-28


frank thomas 600

PREACHING AND MORAL IMAGINATION 
 
Featured Presenter: 
 
Frank A. Thomas is the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis. He is the author of the popular They Never Like to Quit Priasin' God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching, considered by many to be a standard for homiletics. 
 
Thomas has been a professor of homiletics to graduate students at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, and at Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the CEO of Hope for Life International Inc., which formerly published The African American Pulpit. Recognized for his preaching and preaching method, Thomas was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College. He also serves as a member of the International Board of Societas Homiletica. Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Memphis, a Doctor of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary, Doctor of Ministry degrees from Chicago Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in African-Caribbean Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.
 
His other works include American Dream 2.0: A Christian Way Out of the Great Recession (Abingdon Press, 2012) and Preaching With Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons, 1750 to the Present, co-edited by Martha Simmons.
 
Schedule: 
 
Thursday, April 27
 
Opening Worship 3:00 pm 
First Lecture 3:30 pm 
Book Signing / Break for Dinner 5:00 pm

Evening Worship 7:30 pm 

 
Friday, April 28
 
Pancake Breakfast (Fundraiser) 9:00 am 
Lecture 10:30 am 

World Religions Lecture & Interreligious Relations

2017 Annual Lecture Deffenbaugh photo 1Ralston Deffenbaugh, a human rights lawyer working for the church, will speak about what it means to be Lutheran in today’s multi-religious world during the 13th Annual Lecture on World Religions and Interreligious Relations, sponsored by the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7:00 p.m., March 30, at Trinity.
Deffenbaugh’s presentation, “Liberated by God’s Grace: What It Means to Be Lutheran in Today’s Multireligious World,” comes as the church in 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Deffenbaugh serves as Assistant General Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights at The Lutheran World Federation, where he coordinates the LWF’s international affairs and human rights advocacy and policy development, advises the General Secretary, and serves as the LWF’s main representative to the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland. For 18 years he oversaw the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (the U.S. Lutheran churches’ agency for resettling refugees and working with asylum seekers, unaccompanied refugee children, and persons in immigration detention).  He also is a 1995 recipient of Trinity’s Sylvester C. Michelfelder Award for Christian Service.
The Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus is a collaborative effort of the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Pontifical College Josephinum, and Trinity. For information about the Consortium or the lecture series, contact Dr. Paul Numrich, professor in the Consortium, at 740-362-3443 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Color My Seminary Green

by Margaret Farnham


Over the years, students and faculty have become more involved in recycling, energy conservation, gardening, and other activities that demonstrate a faithful commitment to the care of creation. This fall, Trinity will formally kick off a three-year process to become a GreenFaith certified seminary.

color green aWhen graduating senior Inge Williams visited Trinity for the first time as a prospective student more than four years ago, she took note of several things: Alum Creek and its adjacent walking trail, a nearby park, a professor and campus organization dedicated to environmental justice, and daffodils. “It was March and the daffodils had just bloomed,” she recalled.

Because Williams’ call to ministry arose in part from a garden project with her home congregation, she was encouraged during that March visit by what she saw and heard from Dr. Lisa Dahill, associate professor of worship and Christian spirituality. As a result, Williams chose to study at Trinity.

Shortly after her arrival in 2010, she joined the seminary- sponsored group SEEDS (Stewarding Earth and Environment Daily and Sustainably). Established on campus in 2006, SEEDS hosts guest speakers who share their experiences with things like energy audits, community garden projects, clean-up activities, and political advocacy as it relates to the environment.

As an intern in Seattle, Williams joined other clergy to testify against the development of export terminals in Washington and Oregon for the storage of coal shipped from Montana and Wyoming to Asia. Dressed in her clergy collar, she spoke of the ports’ devastating impact on the surrounding plants and waterways, not to mention the people who would inhale the coal dust.

Last February, Williams was assigned to the Northeast Pennsylvania Synod, an area where farmers set aside land for potatoes and other staple products used by area soup kitchens.She sees the progression of her journey as the work of the Holy Spirit.All of these things have “helped me to claim the stuff I was wrestling with before I entered. For me, this was a call to leadership,” she said.

In her last weeks at Trinity, Williams and 15 other students helped to launch an energy audit of the seminary by Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, the Ohio affiliate of the national Interfaith Power and Light network.Interfaith Power and Light exists to educate faith communities and elicit their participation in energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of renewable energy.

In November 2013, the Trinity Board of Directors gave approval for Ohio Interfaith Power and Light to conduct the energy audit as part of the seminary’s GreenFaith certification process. To become a GreenFaith certified seminary, Trinity must meet criteria in four areas: facilities, curriculum, spiritual life, and advocacy.
During the energy audit, students accompanied energy consultants and certified lighting professionals as they toured the building and collected pages of data about the seminary’s lighting, outlets, and heating and air conditioning system. John Fetters (father of Andy Fetters, ’07), of Effective Lighting Solutions, oversaw the lighting evaluation.

The data will be used to create a computer simulation of energy use and ultimately provide a list of Energy Conservation Measures for the seminary. The audit also will include a solar analysis and an evaluation of the seminary’s water use. The total cost for the audit is $22,750. Volunteer assistance from the students helped to reduce that amount by $2,900, and American Electric Power offered a $5,000 rebate. Based on the final report and recommendations, there will be additional rebates available, said Craig Foster, president of Foster Energy Management Co. and the lead auditor.

In addition to the energy audit, members of the seminary community continually look for ways to raise awareness about energy conservation, climate change, pollution, and the global need for clean water. Last fall, Trinity and Bexley Seabury seminaries invited climate scientist Lonnie Thompson, of The Ohio State University Byrd Polar Research Center, to participate in an interfaith panel discussion about climate change, and this spring Trinity welcomed renowned speaker and author Cynthia Moe-Lobeda for the seminary’s first eco-justice event.

color green bTrinity’s attention to all matters ecological can be traced to Professor Dahill, who not only teaches a course called Ecological Spirituality, but weaves matters of creation care into most classes she teaches and the sermons she preaches. She continually asks the question: “How can we live in a way that is more life giving?”

Dahill’s questions—and quest to involve others in the preservation of earth and its resources—comes down to “relationship”; more specifically, our relationship with God and God’s creation.

“Bonhoeffer talks about living in correspondence with reality, where God and the world come together. We can’t speak of God without speaking of the world,” said Dahill, a noted Bonhoeffer scholar. “But we have failed to see God of the world; we’re not living in correspondence with reality.”

Carbon emissions and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to global warming and deforestation; pesticide runoff from farms continues to pollute important water sources; and the population most affected by pollution, poor air quality, and toxic waste continues to be the poor and disadvantaged.

“Faith communities have a unique role in equipping people to face reality, to tell the truth of what we see, and to draw on our centuries of ritual and practice to participate in God’s work today of re-creating human economies, communities, and lives toward the flourishing of all,” Dr. Dahill wrote in a report to the Board of Directors outlining the reasons why Trinity should become a GreenFaith seminary.
Through her preaching and teaching, Dahill continually encourages others to learn to live in a way that “gets us in touch with the world and the earth.” She rides her bike to the seminary each day, water bottle in tow.

“I ride my bike because it is fun, good exercise, and it saves fossil fuels. It is intrinsically life giving and joyful to be out in the real world and among living things,” she said.

“Her passion is contagious,” said first-year student Joel Rothe of Dr. Dahill. “Without her, students would not be this involved or aware. I think we are all grateful for her presence here.”

Recognizing the need for an organized effort to raise awareness and involve students in matters of ecological justice and sustainability, Dahill formed the SEEDS group soon after her arrival on campus. The organization grew slowly, but today involves numerous students in various degree programs. Williams and Rothe earn work study money provided by Ohio Interfaith Power and Light to serve as student liaisons between the seminary and OhIPL. They help organize activities on campus, such as continuing education events and the energy audit.

“My involvement in SEEDS has furthered my own sense of need for stewardship for the world around me, and refined my own theological sense of how I fit in the midst of creation and how the gospel speaks to ‘more than human life’ – all the life that surrounds us,” said Rothe. He is most concerned about climate change and the church’s role as researchers provide more details about its impact on the environment. A California native, he regularly organizes hikes to Columbus-area metro parks and encourages his colleagues to get outdoors.

color green cMembers of SEEDS also organize cleanup of the portion of Alum Creek that runs adjacent to the seminary and seminary apartments. Trinity is a partner with the Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries (FACT), a 25-year-old, non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of the creek, a main water source for one Columbus community and home to an abundance of plant and animal life.

A few times a year, students, faculty, and staff pull shopping carts and tires from the creek’s muddy banks, and remove plastic bottles, cans, and litter from the nearby walkway. This spring, students planted new seedlings along the trail that runs beside the creek.

Members of SEEDS and the broader seminary community also share their voices in the public sphere. Members of the community were urged to sign a petition to support Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Ohio, and in a story for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, President Rick Barger and Professor Dahill provided opposition to Ohio Senate Bill 310, a bill that would stall energy efficiency programs and the further growth of wind and solar power.

As membership in SEEDS continues to grow, so do the projects. First-year student Creighton Leptak this year spearheaded a new garden project behind the president’s home on Sheridan Avenue near the seminary. Six new beds were created and now hold cucumbers, squash, cabbage, radishes, peppers, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, sweet corn, beans, potatoes, and a variety of herbs. Students who remain on campus throughout the summer will join Harriet Barger in tending the garden. Its bounty will be shared with members of the community and others.

This fall, the community will formally kick off the three-year process that ultimately will lead to Trinity’s designation as a GreenFaith seminary. “I want the tone of the process to be fun and life giving, like riding my bike,” said Dr. Dahill, who hopes one day to see attention to creation care in all aspects of the seminary curriculum, from biblical studies and ethics to pastoral care and field education.

“God has embraced all of creation in the flesh of Christ. God, human, world, earth…we experience all of this as the fullness of God,” said Dahill. “We’re compelled as Lutherans to think that way. How can we enjoy it and lament its great losses, and have the courage to face hard things.”

As Inge Williams prepares for her first call in Pennsylvania, she anticipates the Holy Spirit will continue to move through her ministry as she finds new ways to engage others in the care of creation.

“Wherever you go, people are connected to the land,” she said. “There is so much nature around us, but we take it for granted. The gospel gives us another way to treat one another and God’s creation.”

 500 Years of the Reformation


2017 marks five hundred years since Martin Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany. As we await this celebration in the church, we prepare for the milestone that 500 years is. In the coming months, we will feature different resources and publications here. We hope to engage you, in conjunction with Hamma Library, in celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation! For now, these two websites offer additional information about preparing for the anniversary and about the Reformation's history. 

        elca500        lutheranworld

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