News and Events
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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
Ned R Lavengood Sr, a former and long-serving trustee, died December 29, 2016 at Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington, NC.
Born in Wabash, Indiana, on December 30, 1928, 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, 1951 to 1953 (101st Airborne).
He considered himself an entrepreneur, and was involved in many types of business ventures in New York, Chicago, and North Carolina. He was particularly proud of being a member of the Million Dollar Roundtable at Metropolitan Life NYC and of his work with Keyes Fiber, where he was Midwest Regional Sales Manager. He was more recently co-owner of Sibyl’s Antiques and Collectables with his wife, Sibyl Lavengood. 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 served as a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House for 28 years until he stepped down in 2006. He commented that he came to each meeting looking to bring or make one significant contribution to each meeting. 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, NC. He was Elder Emeritus at First Christian Church in Wilmington, NC. In addition, he was a Mason for over 60 years, played trumpet in the Sudan Temple Shrine Band for many years, and 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. In Wilson, NC, he played French Horn in the Wilson Brass Band, and started a program to feed the homeless. 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.
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.
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.
Four persons are new Disciples Divinity House Scholars for the 2016-17 academic year: Burton Guion (MA), Shelly Tilton (MA), Jack Veatch (MDiv), and Stefan Aderhold (AMRS). In addition, Judith Guy returns to her final year of the MDiv program after a year-long internship in Greensboro, North Carolina last year. DDH is also pleased to welcome seven additional persons as new residential members of the community: Marshall Hatch, Matthew Johnson, Ellie Leech, Yanjie Niu, Sarath Pillai (returning after a year), Braxton Shelley, and Luke Soderstrom.
Burton Guion (MA) is a 2015 magna cum laude graduate of Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, where he majored in Philosophy/Religion and English. He was a Missouri Bright Flight Scholar and, at Drury, a Trustee Scholar and a recipient of the CW Titus Study Abroad Language Scholarship. He helped to create the Drury Humanities Society and served as its president. From 2012-15 he was an intern at National Avenue Christian Church in Springfield, which is his home congregation. This past year he was a Community Development intern at Grace Settlement House in St. Louis, where he helped to manage Neighborhood College, an adult education program.
Shelly Tilton (MA) is a 2013 MDiv graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School, where she received the William A. Newcomb Prize and was awarded honors for her senior thesis. An ordained Disciples minister, she served as the Associate Minister of Saguaro Christian Church in Tucson, Arizona, for two years under the Congregational Immersion Project of DDH at Vanderbilt. She will enter the MA program to pursue questions about sacredness, aesthetics, philosophy, and religion and possible doctoral work. She was raised in the Church of Christ and was a summa cum laude graduate of Freed-Hardeman University, where she majored in philosophy.
Jack Veatch (MDiv) is a 2015 graduate of Kent State University, where he majored in Business Management. At Kent State, he interned at United Christian Ministries (UCM) and gave leadership to initiatives with the Muslim Student Association and with TransFusion. He seeks to combine ministry and advocacy for social justice. He was raised in the First Christian Church, Stow, Ohio, and was nourished by the region’s Camp Christian as an attendee and as a counselor; he was a member of the Ohio region's Youth Council. He was an NBA Xplor resident this past year; he worked with the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry and was based at North Hollywood Christian Church.
Stefan Aderhold (AMRS) is an alumnus of the Theologisches Studienhaus (TSH) at Heidelberg University. He was part of the DDH-TSH exchange/conference in 2015 and again this September. He is also pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Heidelberg and working with Prof. Christoph Strohm on Martin Bucer’s writings and on how religious identity is shaped in the reinterpretation that occurs between and among confessional traditions. He has been active in the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), with Christian Endeavor, and especially with scouting (VCP), to which he has given outstanding leadership on a regional level (Baden-Wurttemberg). He notes, “Globalization makes us question our cultural identities, beliefs, emotions, and responsibilities. How do we confront different beliefs? How can we connect with others without giving up our religious identity?”
The Disciples Divinity House and the Divinity School co-sponsored a retreat for younger MDiv alumni/ae on September 16-17. Twenty-eight alums gathered from across the continent, Canada to Florida, and from a wide range of ministerial careers to converse about “Integrity, Multiple-Mindedness, and Innovation” with professors Kris Culp, Cynthia Lindner, and Dwight Hopkins, and to share the gifts of collegiality and reflection. Aaron Smith and Paul Ford are pictured here.
Kris Culp explored “integrity” through the autobiographies of Dorothy Day and Malcolm X. Cynthia Lindner talked about “multiplicity,” the subject of her recent book, Varieties of Gifts. Dwight Hopkins shared his approach to “innovation” and his plans for future research. These seminars, together with the play Ultra American, provided rich fodder for understanding and complicating narratives about ministry and the well-lived ministerial life.
A $15,000 grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation provides significant support for both the alumni/ae retreat and the Constructive Theologies Project. Both events resource the development of peer leadership projects and of new models of alumni/ae learning. An intergenerational retreat is being planned in consultation with the DDH Alumni/ae Council for fall 2017. Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore is the project director.