Grant of $425,000 will fund seminary environmental initiative


The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a three-year, $425,000 grant to Methodist Theological School in Ohio to support the establishment of the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative.

The grant will be shared by MTSO, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, and the Green Seminary Initiative, a project of Drew Theological School and GreenFaith.

A growing number of seminary leaders in diverse settings recognize the moral imperative to play a role in the care of God’s creation, but they face significant challenges in addressing environmental issues on their own. The Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative aims to establish best practices and offer resources for seminaries that wish to engage in environmental issues academically and institutionally.

In a letter to MTSO President Jay Rundell, Luce Foundation President Michael Gilligan said, “We congratulate you and your colleagues for producing a proposal that rose to the top of a highly competitive pool of applicants for the first grants from the new Luce Fund for Theological Education.”

Funds from the grant will be used to advance seminary environmental engagement through two lines of action.

The Green Seminary Initiative, under the leadership of Rev. Fletcher Harper and Dr. Laurel Kearns, will enroll up to 10 seminaries nationwide in the Seminary Environmental Certification Program, a three-year process through which the schools will integrate environmental protection and care into the areas of education, worship and spiritual formation, facility and grounds maintenance, community leadership, and governance. GSI will provide extensive support and guidance for participating schools and will create a community of practice among faculty, administrators, facility staff, trustees and students.

In addition, GSI and MTSO will join with Rabbi Yonatan Neril and the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development to lead six Seminary Faith and Ecology Conferences at locations throughout the United States. Each conference is expected to involve 50-75 seminary faculty and staff, focusing on emerging pedagogical approaches to faith and ecology.

MTSO will administer the grant through the leadership of Dr. Timothy Van Meter, associate professor in the Alford Chair of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, and will coordinate research related to the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative, developing evaluative tools and convening writing groups to produce materials arising from the initiative. Van Meter and Dr. Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, MTSO assistant professor of theology, ecology and race, will serve as research coordinators.

The full executive summary of the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative is available online at www.mtso.edu/seli.

Methodist Theological School provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just and sustainable world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, theological studies and practical theology, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.

Methodist Theological School provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just and sustainable world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, theological studies and practical theology, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.