With this issue, William R. MacKaye, In Trust's founding editor and chief executive, retires after more than fifteen years of service. Consider with me Bill's contribution in hoisting the sails on the first magazine for North American theological education and its Web site.
In 1988 when Bill was selected by a newly formed editorial council to edit an occasional paper for "friends of theological education," he proposed a magazine format that would include both well-edited excerpts of previously published material and shorter pieces of news, research, and responses from readers.
I recall the enthusiasm around the table on that sunny October day at the Washington Theological Union where five of us sat working through an agenda that included defining the focus, audience, circulation strategy, and finally the naming of this publication.
Vincent Cushing, a Franciscan friar and then president of the WTU, presided. He had offered to host a grant from Lilly Endowment to launch the enterprise. Garth Rosell, then academic dean at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, brought perspective on the lush growth of evangelical Protestantism. J. L. Zwingle, retired president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and an active Presbyterian, had founded the AGB's publication and had nudged Lilly to get us to this point.
As a Lutheran and historian of American religious institutions, I came as a free-lance consultant on theological school governance.
Bill, an active and irenic Episcopalian, the Washington Post's former religion editor and an editor of its Sunday magazine, came up with the winner: "In Trust," the name we immediately knew to be our own.
For the second issue, Autumn 1989, Bill began writing special reports, the first on Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the controversial work of the new majority on its board to rebuild the school. He set a course in which In Trust would not shy away from contentious or painful issues, especially since he recognized that members of governing boards were often at the center of the whirlwinds. Underlying Bill's journalistic instincts lay a deep commitment to educating the members of governing boards from story. His method was explicit. For example, in his "Focal Point" of Autumn 2000 he wrote that "we offer no comment on whether the actions taken by the respective schools were appropriate to the circumstances. We simply invite our trustee readers to reflect on how they would handle such a situation...." Real-life stories teach.
Because of his bias for story -- a multitude of stories if one reviews the fifty-four issues of magazine he edited -- we celebrate the human face he put on theological schools and their leaders. Through his editing, readers come to see themselves and others engaged in the work of governing and administering theological schools on the difficult and shifting terrain of North American religion.
But individual stories were not enough. Bill also initiated rapid response research. In 1997, one of his earliest and most remarkable faxed surveys produced data from 80 percent of all theological schools on their state of computerization and their use of electronic educational tools. High responsiveness demonstrates the level of trust and interest Bill had cultivated through
As In Trust learned when it launched its seminar series in 1996, the members of theological school governing boards value learning among colleagues. They prefer not being or feeling alone as they struggle for the resources and policies that will contribute to the vitality, and often the very viability, of their schools.
During Bill's fifteen years, In Trust the magazine became In Trust Inc., the educational resource. Incorporation in 1995 also brought the Patrons campaign and the annual contributions of more than 70 percent of all schools to In Trust's budget. Most recently, Bill directed the launch of our Web site, In Trust Online.
He leaves us with a demanding legacy, named by his own reiteration: peer education is at the heart of teaching the art of governance. For Bill and for the board of In Trust, the community that is theological education goes beyond learning. But, as he himself wrote in 1992, community must point beyond itself to communion: "In a community members are pressured to conform themselves to the ways of the dominant group; in a communion the differences that members bring to the group are respected, and all are challenged to pursue the virtues involved in being 'imitators of God.'"
This Christian gentleman, our own now Editor Emeritus, will not disappear from these pages. We will continue to ask him to write, even as his call to the standards of story and community becoming communion will continue to reverberate.
Reach thousands of seminary administrators, trustees, and others in positions of leadership in North American theological schools — an audience that cares about good governance, effective leadership, and current religious issues — by advertising in In Trust!