Klein’s Lasting Gift: A Vision for the Community

Jay Smith, YTI President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Special Edition - Klein Gilhousen Memorial Inscribed

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

— William Shakespeare,
The Tempest (4.1.148-158)

Klein Gilhousen was not the literary figure that Shakespeare was; he spoke best in mathematical and engineering concepts or carving trails in the snow with his skis or pathways in the skies with his airplanes. Yet Klein was a poet, a true believer, and imagineer. He was able to pursue “such stuff as dreams are made on…”

Making a lasting difference in Bozeman and beyond

The last few years of his life, Klein enjoyed his wife, his family, and his philanthropy. He wanted his philanthropy to make a difference in Bozeman and beyond.

Klein’s final great project, his legacy project, was Yellowstone Theological Institute. For Klein, Yellowstone Theological Institute wasn’t simply a divinity school or seminary in the traditional mode; rather, it was the future of faith. It was to be the organization that reconciled the world to the Creator. In all of its facets, YTI was to teach, proclaim, and adore God and His creation. It was to be a place where students would live out their education as they learned. It was to be the city on a hill, or the lamp on the table, drawing the inhabitants of the greater Bozeman community to its light. It was to be both a channel and a clearinghouse for ministry, uniting the various non-profit charitable organizations in a concerted effort to bring light and health to Gallatin County.

Pioneering education and community engagement

Klein’s vision was as broad as it was ambitious. He and his co-founders hoped that YTI would become a pioneer in the area of education and community engagement. Klein had the inside track for such a vision: he was a believer, an imagineer, and he knew that all things were possible with God.

I sit here amazed as I think about all the things that Klein could have supported—or maybe even should have supported—instead of Yellowstone Theological Institute. The truth is, he supported YTI because he believed in its future just as much as believed in the future of CDMA! Klein has donated hundreds of hours and an astounding amount of capital to the vision of YTI.

Not only did Klein support the vision, but he also supported his partners in making that vision a reality. Our administrative team, our faculty, and myself are recipients of a tremendous amount of love, respect, and trust from Klein. We hold that love as a sacred commission. He believes in us, and we believe in the vision that is YTI. It is a vision for everyone.

A vision for faith, adventure, and the arts

What was so powerful about this vision that it captured Klein? He found the key tenets of the YTI dream to be critical for improving our community and our world. These tenets include:

1. The basic Christian orientation is to love unconditionally, forgive others frequently, and serve generously. It was Klein’s belief that if more people consciously followed the way of Christ, then both hate and violence would recede, and the peace of God would preside in our world.

2. Critical and creative thinking make the world a better place.

3. Dialogue is critical to meaningful community. At YTI, interfaith, intercultural, and interdisciplinary dialogues are actively pursued as a loving basis for community.

4. Faith must connect to all of life for it to be meaningful.

5. The fine arts and performing arts help create personal and communal meaning, and they are essential to human wellbeing.

6.  Nature, recreation, and adventure also create personal and communal wellbeing, as well as shape our understanding of existence in the world.

7. Christian theology and ministry is enhanced not only as students examine ancient texts, historical church documents, and contemporary practical thought, but also as they engage with what they are learning in the culture at large on a daily basis.

Building a place for the whole community

YTI is designed as much more than an educational institution. The institute is at the heart of Bozeman’s Yellowstone Center for Faith, Adventure, and the Arts—a place of community gardens, recreational facilities, artistic resources, and educational opportunities. The Yellowstone Center’s Aspen Park property will provide a place where people from all parts of the Gallatin Valley that Klein loved so dearly can gather in true community.

Continuing a legacy of love and respect

It is now up to each one of us to continue Klein Gilhousen’s legacy project with Yellowstone Theological Institute.

Whereas Qualcomm joined together some of the best engineering minds on the planet to change the face of communications technology, it is up to Yellowstone Theological Institute to take the “What if?” question of Qualcomm to the fields of theology, humanities, and the arts. It is up to us to continue that critical and creative dialogue for the health of our world. It is up to us to continue the creation of a community within Bozeman that demonstrates a healthy, respectful love for one another, a community that is unafraid of—indeed, a community that encourages—interfaith, intercultural, and interdisciplinary dialogue.

Yellowstone Theological Institute is a vision that started with Klein, Karen, and myself. However, in order for us to see it come to completion, it will require all of us, as a community, to participate. Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Protestants, Pagans, and Atheists are all children of the Creator. All of us have the capacity for deep love.

Let us continue Klein’s vision together and make the Yellowstone Center an example for the rest of our world.

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