By Tom Neuenfeldt
The Board of Trustees for the Center for Swedenborgian Studies (CSS) met on May 5 and 6, 2023. In person attendees met at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California. Those attending virtually via Zoom were connected to those meeting in person via Owl Labs technology.
Dean, Dr. Rebecca Esterson, reported on a grant to CSS from the Boston Society of the New Jerusalem for $16,789 to purchase an archival-quality scanner. The goal is to make materials in the CSS library archives digitally available to the public. VHS recordings of CSS lectures and Convention events will also be converted to a digital format. CSS recently received 133 boxes of denomination materials and records that have previously been stored with Iron Mountain in the Boston area for many years. Plans are underway to begin processing these materials to incorporate them into the library collections.
In January the Board approved funding for a Nunc Licit Fellowship program focused on ordination track students. The fellowship is a merit-based scholarship program designed to underwrite the tuition expenses for promising individuals who plan to serve in ministries of the Swedenborgian Church. The dean reported that there are currently three prospective and one current student who have expressed serious interest in the Fellowship.
Treasurer Jennifer Lindsay and Financial Manager Alan Thomsen presented a financial report and 2023–2024 budget proposal. The approved budget for 2023–2024 shows estimated revenues of $625,448 and expenditures of $680,281. The $54,834 deficit is the result of the Nunc Licet Fellowship line item that could expend up to $72,360 in scholarships and housing support this upcoming academic year. The Board has decided that strategically providing an affordable path to our future ministerial leaders is a justifiable use of funds.
A highlight of the meeting was the presentation by Dr. Rebecca Esterson, Robert Carr, and Jennifer Lindsay on their March 2023 trip to the Holy Land with thirteen other Swedenborgians, including CSS students. The ten-day educational and spiritual experience provided visits to antiquity sites as well as planned interactions with both Israeli and Palestinian families. Our travelers were immersed in the lives of local residents through meetings, meals, and home stays. This opportunity allowed for a more personal view and understanding of the current and historical conflicts between the families residing on these lands.
Another highlight was our time to gather and socialize as a CSS community. The Board, faculty, and staff were welcomed by the Rev. Junchol Lee and the San Francisco Church for dinner on Friday night. A few of our former board members were also able to attend.
The Board is very appreciative of the work that our faculty and staff do on a daily basis to provide the highest caliber of education and training for all of our students and the denomination at large. Dr. Rebecca Esterson has assumed the duties and responsibilities of dean with incredible insight and energy. The Board, faculty, and staff are committed to providing a vibrant contribution to theological education.
Read the full issue of the June 2023 Messenger
Meet Tom Neuenfeldt
Tom Neuenfeldt is the Chair of the CSS Board of Trustees.