A seminary is only as strong as its governing board, and Central’s board has determined that it will seek to grow stronger. This past Thursday and Friday, busy board members took time away from their regular schedules to gather for a board retreat so that they might gather strength for Central’s mission. Facilitating the retreat was Dr. David Tiede, a governance mentor with InTrust, and a wise and seasoned seminary president. The objectives of the retreat were as follows:
· Gain a clearer understanding of the mission of the school at this point; the seminary has been innovating in ways that make it hard for the board to have a comprehensive grasp of all the educational and entrepreneurial initiatives.
· Think about the larger narrative identity of the school. The board is the continuity for the school—not the President or the leadership team. This will require a longitudinal awareness of the promise and challenge of the future. What story is the board creating at this point?
· Have a conversation about leadership within the board itself. Is it preparing generative leaders to steward the institution? Has it thought about succession planning for executive leadership?
· Facilitate the board’s constructive engagement in its essential task of providing funding for the school’s mission through personal stewardship and significant connectivity.
· Learn ways to have a more generative board meeting. One of our board members asked at our last meeting: “are you asking enough of us?” We want to utilize the giftedness of the board more effectively.
· Deepen relationships among board members for the sake of collegial work on behalf of the institution. Building in time for informal conversation will strengthen the work of the board.
In addition to guiding the board retreat, the governance mentor also facilitated a faculty consultation to discuss the role of the faculty in enacting the mission through teaching, publishing, and professing. And a board ensures the opportunity to continue these holy practices.
The Epistle lesson yesterday included these words: “ . . . live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that . . .you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). One of the results of striving side by side is the multiplication of effort. A theological seminary operates on a shared governance model, which means there are proper roles for faculty, administrators, and board members to play. Only when all three entities are operating at full power can the mission flourish.
How grateful I am for Central’s faculty! These scholar-practitioners continue to form women and men for excellent leadership for churches and the larger community. How grateful I am for Central’s board! Central’s board is comprised of attorneys, scientists, professors, pastors, regional executives, scholars, a physician, business executives—laity and ordained—all expressing their Christian vocation as stewards of Central’s mission. “Standing firm in one spirit,” faculty, trustees, and administrators can fulfill our calling in theological education.
Molly T. Marshall