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A NEW DAY Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton



The sixth president of Christian Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton, brings to the seminary a perspective that is at once rooted in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and decidedly ecumenical in outlook. He is a scholar, teacher, musician, and leader who admires the achievements of his five predecessors—and is ready and eager to build on them.

MATTHEW MYER BOULTON TAKES THE HELM seminary welcomes its sixth president

Although he came to Indianapolis from Boston,

In choosing graduate study at Harvard Divinity

Boulton, 41, is a Midwesterner at heart. He was

School, Boulton was initially drawn to studying

raised in Holland, Michigan, where his mother

world religions – but before long began a love affair

was a teacher and social worker and his father

with Christian theology. Along the way, he explored

was a professor of Christian ethics at Hope

a wide range of Christian communities, from the

College. Sports-minded Matthew and his younger

Quaker tradition to Pentecostalism, and then

brother enjoyed the campus basketball courts

finding a home in to a dynamic, prophetic

and swimming pool at Hope, and Boulton calls

Presbyterian church in a poor neighborhood in

the southwestern Michigan town “a great place

South Boston.

to grow up.” But as a restless high-schooler, he

was determined to escape to the big city. For that getaway, he chose Northwestern University, just north of Chicago.

As a history and film major, Boulton envisioned a

career as a documentary filmmaker and American History professor specializing in Native American studies. Academic life appealed to him, he says, “as a life of constant learning, teaching, reading, and writing.”

Before graduate school, however, Boulton took

He earned the M.Div. from Harvard in 1998 and

a Ph.D. in theology at The University of Chicago in 2003, where his fellow student and future wife Elizabeth Myer Boulton graciously guided him to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The couple was co-ordained in 2002.

Boulton returned to the classroom as assistant

professor of worship and preaching at Andover Newton Theological School, serving there from 2002 to 2007; and associate professor of ministry studies at Harvard Divinity School from 2007 until

a job as an elementary school teacher in Boston.

his transition to CTS. In a dual appointment as

While his sixth-grade students thoroughly engaged

seminary president and professor of theology, the

him, he eventually decided to return to school

newest member of the CTS faculty will likely teach

himself. From then on, however, he spent his

his unique and provocative course, “Passion Play:

summers directing – and eventually owning –

History, Theology, Performance,” in the spring

Mazemakers, an arts and technology camp.

semester. The course combines his interest in

During those two decades of summers, he says,

theology and the arts, and culminates in the

he developed his leadership style through working

performance of an original Passion Play,

with teens, young adults, and senior teachers on

collaboratively written and produced by the

his staff.



A VISION EMERGING boulton practices the art of listening The committee that conducted an exhaustive national search for CTS’s new president is confident that Matthew Myer Boulton’s wide-ranging background in history, theology, and the arts gives him a broad vantage point from which to guide the institution.

Still in the early months of his presidency, Boulton acknowledges the ahead. He is on what he calls a “listening campaign,” meeting individu members and trustees and with staff in small groups; with civic leade and with fellow institutional leaders. But what exactly is he listening for? An advocate of asset-based community development, which emphasizes building on existing strengths, Boulton says he is “discerning where the Holy Spirit is already active in the CTS community, in Indy, and in the wider world. That’s what I’m listening for: Where are the places to build? What strengths can we capitalize upon? Some ideas are already emerging, and it’s very exciting stuff.” “He zeroes in on what’s right in a situation,” confirms Melissa Hickman, vice president for seminary advancement

human family in the best way? We need to learn from them.” Boulton was drawn to CTS both as an

at CTS. “It’s an approach that’s both

ecumenical seminary in an urban setting

clarifying and empowering.”

and by its unique niche in central

The approach emerged again in

Indiana. As the new president meets

August, when Boulton told Indianapolis

with individuals representing diverse

radio host Amos Brown and his

and complex perspectives, he also is

Afternoons with Amos audience that CTS

gauging their appetite for change.

needs to be plugged into Indianapolis,

And speaking of appetite, one of his

“to be ‘sitting at the feet’ of those in Indy

first directives was to reintroduce food

who are doing great things,” as Boulton

service on the CTS campus. “Food and

put it. “We need to learn from what’s

worship are both at the heart of

already happening in the city… the best

Christian community,” he explains.

churches, but also the best synagogues,

“Breaking bread together – that’s

the best nonprofits, the best businesses.

where the best listening and storytelling

Who is developing and serving the


steep learning curve ually with CTS faculty ers and city officials;

IT’S A NEW DAY AT CTS – and a good day to make a financial gift that celebrates the beginning of President Boulton’s tenure, his emerging vision for the seminary, and the optimism and momentum that’s taken hold on campus. An envelope is included for your convenience, or you may give online at



meet the myer boulton clan

THE SECOND TIME MATTHEW BOULTON returned to the Chicago area for higher education was quite different from the first. In 1988, he was a Northwestern University freshman and aspiring filmmaker, reveling in the urban setting. A decade later, he held a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and was intent on pursuing his doctorate in theology at the University of Chicago —consummately serious study, he says, in a consummately serious place. When he arrived at the university, he met and began dating Elizabeth Myer. A lifelong member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) born in Virginia but raised in Toronto, Liz had spent a year hosting U.S. and Canadian medical delegations in Haiti before enrolling at the U of C. There she lived in the Disciples Divinity House (DDH), a residential program for Disciples scholars of the divinity school. In the intensely academic environment, Boulton found DDH to be a welcome “oasis of community.” Through Liz, he got to know the denomination inside and out, took courses on Disciples history and thought, and eventually decided to join the fold. Liz and Matt married in April of 2002, and were ordained together that summer in a small country church amid farm fields in Mapleton, Ontario—as he fondly recalls the setting, “beans on one side, corn on the other.” The couple moved to Boston, where he became assistant professor of worship and preaching at Andover Newton Theological School, and she planted a Disciples of Christ new church start as pastor of Hope Church. Although he served Hope Church as associate pastor and music director, Boulton credits the church’s remarkable growth to his wife: “She is an amazing leader.” Pastoring her thriving congregation of 150 was fulfilling, but all-consuming. With a toddler and baby on board—

Matthew Myer Boulton’s writings reflect his interests in Reformed theology, worship, and social science. He is a co-editor and contributor to Doing Justice to Mercy: Religion, Law, and Criminal Justice (University of Virginia Press, 2007) and is the author of two books. In God Against Religion: Rethinking Christian Theology through Worship (Eerdmans, 2008), he draws on Martin Luther, John Calvin and Karl Barth to outline a Christian theology that takes worship as its basic framework. Boulton’s second book, Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology, will be published this fall.

THE PRESIDENT AS AUTHOR Boulton’s interest in John Calvin was sparked about four years ago at Harvard Divinity School, when his department needed someone to teach a class on the 16th-century Protestant reformer. But preparing for the class, where he expected an influential but rather dour theologian, he found a vibrant Christian humanist, a masterful writer, and a brilliant, if sometimes audacious, reformer. “Calvin was up to something truly interesting,” Boulton says. “Take music, for example: Calvin spent a great deal of Jonah arrived in 2005 and Maggie in 2007—in 2008 Liz transitioned to a part-time position as minister for discipleship at Old South Church in Boston, and Matt became an assistant music director there, directing the choir at the early service on Sunday mornings. Boulton describes his son, now 6, as a creative and thoughtful boy who likes dinosaurs and basketball, and his 4-year-old daughter as an energetic “firecracker.” The family has already discovered the Indianapolis Zoo and Children’s Museum, which have quickly convinced Jonah and Maggie that Indy is the best place on Earth. All four share a love of music, with the adult Myer Boultons comprising two-thirds of the indie band Butterflyfish ( The group blends folk, bluegrass, and gospel in catchy tunes that musically bridge the generations; Matt wrote many of the songs. While the new president focuses on CTS, home and family offer perspective and balance, he says: “They’re my biggest strengths.”

time putting together the Genevan Psalter, which became the most important book (other than the Bible) of its time. And that’s the kind of thing that actually made the 16th-century European reformations succeed: the joyous experience of men, women, and children singing together in worship – for the first time! – in their mother tongue.” Among the books in Boulton’s office at CTS is a two-volume edition of Calvin’s seminal Institutes of the Christian Religion. Scores of color-coded tabs line its pages, a rainbow witness to Boulton’s frequent consultation. The books were a gift from his pastor and mentor, who in volume one, inscribed, “Thanks for letting us be a part of your roots.” Boulton grins when he opens the second volume and reads the wry inscription from his mentor’s wife:

“If it’s not in here—check volume one!”



UPCOMING EVENTS AT CTS Mark your calendar. Some events require advance registration. Call 317-931-4224 or visit for more information Installation of PRESIDENT MATTHEW MYER BOULTON OCTOBER 28

Saltsburg Preaching Workshop PREACHING AS CELEBRATION with Rev. Dr. Frank Anthony Thomas NOVEMBER 1

INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING SERVICE At Saints Peter & Paul Cathedral with a prayer offered by Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton NOVEMBER 22


Spirit & Place Festival GROWING FOOD FOR GROWING BODIES: Healthy Choices For Hoosier Children

7:00 p.m. at Sweeney Chapel (Public Invited) with the choirs of Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis



1:00 p.m. at Sweeney Chapel Charles Bozidar Ashanin Memorial Lecture DAMNATION, SALVATION AND GLORIFICATION ACCORDING TO THE APOCALYPSE. with Presvytera Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, PhD

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration OUR BELOVED COMMUNITY Multigenerational Festival



Congregational Life Workshop FROM STUCK TO FLOURISHING: Understanding Congregational Challenges, Enacting Helpful Strategies with Rev. Dr. Bill Kincaid

Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis CENTENNIAL LECTURES THE TRAGEDY: The case of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in Indianapolis with Dr. Scott Seay, Dr. Sue Webb Cardwell and Marian Towne



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Link: A New Day