Disciples Divinity House

of the University of Chicago
May 01, 2017 —  

On April 28, during the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees and the Alumni/ae Council, DDH celebrated the work of Dean Kristine A.Culp and her completion of twenty-five years of service as the dean of Disciples Divinity House. Since 1991, she has provided outstanding leadership to the Disciples Divinity House as well as in the Divinity School. The first woman to become chief executive of one of the theological education institutions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dean Culp led the Disciples Divinity House through its centennial anniversary in 1994. She is currently engaged in preparations to mark DDH’s 125th anniversary in 2019. Dean Culp will complete twenty-six years of service on June 30.

The celebration began in the late afternoon with a reception and a panel discussion at the Disciples Divinity House. Alumni/ae Larry Bouchard, April Lewton, Teresa Hord Owens, and Andrew Packman discussed the theme of vulnerability and glory from Dean Culp’s work, with special reflection on her visionary leadership, and the innovative possibilities that have extended from the mission of the Divinity House in the church, the academy, and beyond over the past twenty-five years.

After the panel discussion, everyone enjoyed dinner at the Piccolo Mondo restaurant in Hyde Park. Trustee Marshall Dunn offered a word of prayer before the meal. As guests were ready to start on dessert, the president of the Board of Trustees, Lee Hull Moses, and Alumni/ae Council President Melinda (Lindy) Keenan Wood read excerpts from some of the letters that alumni/ae and friends sent in to celebrate Dean Culp, and they presented her with the full collection of letters and notes. It was a delightful evening for all.

April 05, 2017 —  

Laurie Zoloth, a leader in the field of religious studies with particular scholarly interest in bioethics and Jewish studies, has been appointed dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School. She presently serves as a Charles McCormick Deering Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, holding appointments in the Department of Religious Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and in the Feinberg School of Medicine. University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier announced her appointment as dean, which will begin July 1, 2017. Her research explores religion and ethics, drawing from sources ranging from Biblical and Talmudic texts to postmodern Jewish philosophy, including the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. Her scholarship spans the ethics of genetic engineering, stem cell research, synthetic biology, social justice in health care, and how science and medicine are taught. As a founding board member of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning, she also researches the practices of interreligious dialogue, exploring how religion plays a role in public discussion and policy.

Ms. Zoloth served as a professor of ethics and Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University before joining the religious studies and medical school faculty at Northwestern. She was the inaugural director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University and director of graduate studies in religious studies at Northwestern. At Northwestern, she was founding director of the Brady Program in Ethics and Civic Life at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and founding director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Zoloth also served as the president of Northwestern’s Faculty Senate.

She is author of Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice and co-editor of five books, including Notes from a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics and Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought. She has been the president of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. She is an elected member of the Hastings Center and a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.Her work on bioethics and health care led her to serve on the NASA Advisory Council, the space agency’s highest civilian advisory board; the International Planetary Protection Committee; the National Recombinant DNA Advisory Board, and the executive committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She served as chair of the first bioethics advisory board at the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute and has testified in front of Congress, the President’s Commission on Bioethics and state legislatures.

Ms. Zoloth began her career as a neonatal nurse working in impoverished communities. She said those early years are central to how she views religious studies and bioethics—an approach that brings together theoretical exploration with an understanding of how arguments of theology and moral philosophy can address societal challenges.

She succeeds Dean Richard A. Rosengarten, who continues as associate professor of religion and literature. Her appointment follows a national search, informed by a Divinity School faculty committee chaired by Dan Arnold, associate professor of the philosophy of religions. (Adapted from a UC press release.)

March 01, 2017 —  

The General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has forwarded the names of four individuals to serve as the moderator team of the Christian Church for 2017-19. Two of those four are Disciples DIvinity House alumni, Beau T. Underwood and Timothy S. Lee. They are nominated to be the FIrst and Second Vice Moderators. Sue Morris, a fourth-generation Disciple and member of First Christian Church of Omaha, Nebraska, who is the president of Heritage Services, is the nominee for Moderator. She has been serving as Moderator-elect. The new nominee for Moderator-elect is Belva Brown Jordan, an associate dean at the Claremont School of Theology and dean of the Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont, California.

Alumnus Beau Underwood has served as the senior minister of First Christian Church in Jefferson City, Missouri, for the past two years. He previously served as the senior director of advocacy and communications at Sojourners in Washington, DC and an assistant minister at National City Christian Church. He is a graduate of Eureka College and a MDiv/MA in Public Policy graduate of the University of Chicago.

Alumnus Timothy S. Lee is an ordained minister and a historian of Christianity at Brite Divinity School. He is an expert on Christianity in Korea. He is a PhD graduate of the Divinity School in the History of Christianity, where he also earned a certificate in Ministerial Studies. He was ordained in 1996 at Chicago Christian Church (DOC), under the mentorship of the late Rev. Soongook Choi. He has given significant leadership to the Disciples of Christ, including as NAPAD Moderator.

The election will be held at the General Assembly of the Christian Church, which meets in Indianapolis in July 2017.

February 26, 2017 —  

The General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) voted this evening to forward the name of Rev. Teresa (Terri) Hord Owens to the 2017 General Assembly as the nominee for General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). An MDiv alumna of the Disciples Divinity House and the University of Chicago Divinity School, she is currently dean of students at the Divinity School and Senior Minister of First Christian Church of Downers Grove, Illinois.

Terri Owens is a native of Terre Haute, Indiana, and a descendant of one of Indiana’s oldest African-American free settlements.She earned her bachelor’s degree in Government with a minor in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University. She began her professional career in the area of information technology, spending twenty-three years in the area of management consulting, data management, and data warehousing. She previously held senior management positions with IBM, Ernst & Young, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and SBC, consistently earning recognition for excellence and leadership. She was an active lay leader in drama and other ministries under the pastorate of Dr. T. Garrott  Benjamin Jr at Light of the World Christian Church in Indianapolis, before accepting a call to ministry.

She earned the Master of Divinity degree at the University of Chicago Divinity School as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar. She was ordained at Light of the World Christian Church, wearing the robe of her paternal grandfather, the late Rev. Noel Hord. In August 2005, she was appointed Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Alongside her work at the Divinity School, Ms. Owens serves as Senior Minister of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Downers Grove, Illinois. She is the first person of color to serve as pastor of this predominantly white congregation. A small congregation with a large heart to serve and give, FCCDG’s ministry reaches to the homeless in DuPage County, as well as families with children in the surrounding area. The church hosts an annual Back-to-School Fair, serving nearly 800 people each year. Unity, liberty and love are the core values of this congregation that seeks to be the presence of Christ in the community. Under Rev. Owens’ leadership, FCCDG is now an open and affirming, anti-racism, pro-reconciliation congregation.

She was the preacher for the opening worship service at the 2015 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in July 2015, and is widely sought after as a preacher, speaker and workshop facilitator. Her ministry and intellectual interests include a theology of reconciliation, cultural intelligence, developing inclusive and multi-cultural congregations, and the mentoring of youth and young adults. She is married to Walter Owens Jr, with whom she will soon celebrate 30 years of marriage. They are the proud parents of an adult son, W. Mitchell Owens III. More here.

February 14, 2017 —  

On February 4, 2017, the Board of the Central Rocky Mountain Region unanimously voted to call Joan Bell-Haynes to serve as its Executive Regional Minister. Rev. Bell-Haynes comes to the CRMR from United Christian Parish of Reston, an ecumenical congregation comprised of four denominations, where she has served since 2005 as co-pastor. An alumna of the Disciples Divinity House and the University of Chicago Divinity School and a graduate of Albany State College in Georgia, she was ordained to ministry jointly by Maywood Christian Church, Maywood, IL, and Park Manor Christian Church, Chicago, IL, in August 1999. She previously served as associate pastor of Community Christian Church, Kansas City, MO, and University Christian Church, Hyattsville, MD. She has served as First Vice Moderator of the General Assembly and as Secretary of the National Convocation. She has also served on the board of the Christian Church Foundation and Disciples Church Extension Fund. She was the 2017 co-recipient of the Christian Church Capital Area Bridge Builder Award.

January 24, 2017 —  

"Gilead exists to connect people to God and each other through beautiful, creative worship; delicious and abundant food; and true stories that save lives." That's how alumna Rebecca Anderson, an ordained Disciples minister, and her former Divinity School classmate, Vince Amlin, an ordained UCC minister, describe the new church they're starting in the Rogers Park neighborhood in north Chicago. "We're open and affirming, anti-racist, local, organic, slow church, just peace, free range, real butter Christians."

They are collaborating with singer and songwriter Vince Wilson and other talented folks. Gilead's first service was held on January 22, filling the room at the Peckish Pig, 623 Howard Avenue, with shared story, food, and song. The next service is planned for February 26 at 5:00pm. In the meanwhile, find them on Facebook and at www.gileadchicago.org

January 08, 2017 —  

Chicago winter is upon us. The temperature has dropped, and the nights are long. The atmosphere is ready for study, the development of worthy questions, and vibrant conversation—indoors.
   On January 30, Jenny Trinitapoli, Associate Professor of Sociology, will speak about her work on the role of religion in the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Wesley Sun, Director of Field Education and Community Engagement at the Divinity School, has published several graphic novels. He will join us to discuss his work on February 13.
   Two alumnae who are Chicago area ministers will return this quarter. Laura Jennison Reed, recently called as the permanent minister of Villa Park Christian Church, will preach on March 6. Allie Lundblad, minister of the Christian Church of Arlington Heights, will join with colleagues in the Constructing Theologies Project to offer reflections on justice and transformation on February 6.
   Several opportunities allow for exploration of theology, history, and biblical interpretation, including two sessions of the Disciples History and Thought Seminar led by W. Clark Gilpin, where theology and interpretation is this year’s theme. House Scholar Andrew Langford, PhD candidate in Bible and Early Christian Literature, will consider the stigma of illness in relation to the pastoral epistles on February 27. Stefan Aderhold, who is with us from Heidelberg University this year as an AMRS student, will talk about the Protestant Reformer Martin Bucer and religious identity on March 6.
   House Scholars Judith Guy and Shelly Tilton will preach. Last year, Judith completed a full-time internship at First Christian Church in Greensboro, NC, where she explored storytelling and biblical interpretation. Shelly is a first-year MA student interested in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, who previously served as Associate Minister of Saguaro Christian Church, Tucson, Arizona.
   As the weather grows wintry and fierce, the atmosphere of Monday evenings invites us to gather again in the warmth of dinner, fellowship, and study. The complete schedule is here.

December 30, 2016 —  

Ned R Lavengood Sr, a former trustee, died December 29, 2016, in Wilmington, NC. He was 87. Born in Wabash, Indiana, he attended Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he studied trumpet and conducting. He graduated from International Business College in accounting, earned his BS from Indiana University and an MBA at New York University. He was a veteran of the Korean War (101st Airborne). He served as a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House for 28 years until he stepped down in 2006. He said that he came to each meeting looking to bring or make one significant contribution. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was always an important part of his life. He served as Elder and sang in the choir at Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City, and later at the First Christian Churches in Downers Grove, Illinois, and in Wilson, North Carolina. He was an elder emeritus at the First Christian Church in Wilmington.

He considered himself to be an entrepreneur, and was involved in many types of business ventures in New York, Chicago, and North Carolina. He was a member of the Million Dollar Roundtable at Metropolitan Life NYC, and served with Keyes Fiber as Midwest Regional Sales Manager. More recently, he and his wife, Sibyl, were co-owner of Sibyl’s Antiques and Collectables. An avid Heisey Glass collector, he served as President of the NC Heisey Glass Collectors and on the board of the National Heisey Collectors of America.

He was a Mason for over 60 years, and played trumpet in a Shrine band, and he was a bugler for the American Legion. A great believer in volunteer work, he felt you should leave a community better off than when you arrived: “Put more in than you take out!” In New York, he was Secretary of the Tri Faith Housing Authority, President of the Gramercy Town and Village Lions Club, and night mayor every Wednesday night for Mayor Lindsay. In Chicago, he was President of Toastmasters International, and started the first group home for boys in DuPage County. He played French Horn in the Wilson Brass Band, and started a program to feed the homeless in Wilson. In Wilmington, he was involved with the Salvation Army Band, volunteered at Rachel Freeman Elementary School, was a Guardian Ad Litem, and a tutor at the Cape Fear Literacy Council. He and Sibyl were founding members of the Parents Council at UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Wilmington, where they served as Co-Presidents.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sibyl McCulloch Lavengood, daughter Traci Lavengood Gemmell (Nole Gemmell), son Ned Jr (Melissa), and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be held January 6 at First Christian Church, Wilmington, NC.

December 20, 2016 —  

Douglas Collins has been called to be the new associate minister of Allisonville Christian Church in Indianapolis. He will serve with Senior Minister Diane Spleth. He begins ministry at ACC in January.
   A Disciples Divinity House Scholar and a BA graduate of Eureka College, Mr. Collins received the MDiv degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School on December 9, and was ordained on December 17 at his home congregation, First Christian Church, Albany, Oregon. Cynthia Linder preached at his ordination service. She was his minister in Albany before becoming the Director of Ministry Studies at the Divinity School. Presiding were FCC Pastor Douglass Anne Cartwright and Oregon Regional Ministers Doug and Cathy Myers Wirt. Dean Kris Culp and fellow House Scholars and Eureka alums Judith Guy and Colton Lott participated in the service; Kiva Nice-Webb was the soloist.

November 14, 2016 —  

The Constructive Theologies Project (CTP) convened its fall conference, “Justice: Applied Theology and Transformation,” on  November 10-12. Dietra Wise-Baker, Minister of Liberation Christian Church in St. Louis, conversed with the group about theological resources for defining and locating justice in congregational leadership and community organizing. They watched the documentary, “Injustice Anywhere,” and a short film by Tosin Morohunfola, “On Sight,” and discussed the role of film and media in contemporary theological formation. Throughout the conference, CTP members employed a dialogical approach to community reflection, “witness and response.” The next conference will take place at Claremont School of Theology in late February 2017. The project is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation. Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore is the project director; Allie Lundblad coordinates the CTP.