Disciples Divinity House

of the University of Chicago
March 01, 2016 —  

Andrew Packman asks "What is race and how is it theological?" in his introductory post on the Constructive Theologies Project blog. "Talk about race is ubiquitous. It’s front-page news.  Whether the topic is police brutality, the distribution of wealth, U.S. history curriculum, identity formation, or religious practice, race is a central factor. If we didn’t acknowledge that race and the disparities associated with race are crucially at work, we simply would not understand what’s going on in any of the major political, social, and moral challenges we face. That much is clear." 

The blog also features a sermon entitled "Not on My Watch!" from Rev. Rae Karim where she explores 2 Samuel 21:1-14. "Details are the most important part of a story. They keep us interested. They keep us in anticipation for the next word, the next page, the next chapter. There is one such story where every detail matters." Read more here.

The Constructive Theologies Project is a group of young adult theological thought leaders within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) seeking to cultivate ideas that move across racial, vocational, intellectual and economic lines to address the possibilities that face the Disciples of Christ today. At present, the group is focused on issues of racial injustice and theologies that might found the church’s work of reconciliation. Each participant will contribute to the blog throughout the year. The peer driven project is funded by a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation and is directed by Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore.

February 19, 2016 —  

Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis, a synagogue affiliated with both the Conservative and Reconstructionist movements in Judaism, has been led since 1977 by Senior Rabbi Dennis Sasso and Senior Rabbi (now Emerita) Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. They are perhaps the first rabbinical couple in Jewish history and each have been the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and awards. Last year, the rabbis and the congregation welcomed Disciples House Scholar and MDiv student Rachel Abdoler into their midst as an intern. She participated in a wide variety of events from early childhood and adult classes, social events, Purim parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvah rehearsals, to speaking in the congregation. On February 22, Rabbi Dennis Sasso will join Rachel Abdoler at the Disciples Divinity House to discuss the internship experience, and to reflect together on how preparation for Christian ministry can be formed by deep engagement with other religious communities.

Rabbi Dennis Sasso is a member of various scholarly and academic societies, and he has served on numerous interfaith, civic and community boards and agencies. He writes a monthly column entitled “Focus on Faith” in the Op-Ed page of the Sunday edition of The Indianapolis Star. He was decorated as a “Sagamore of the Wabash”, a distinguished citizen award presented by the Governor of the State of Indiana. Rabbi Sasso is the recipient of the “Community Service Award” from the NAACP and the “Fostering Life” Award of the Indianapolis Chapter of Links in recognition of his leadership in Interfaith and Interracial relations. He has lectured nationally and abroad and has published scholarly and popular articles on Caribbean Jewry, Reconstructionist Judaism, the Jewish family, the life cycle, spirituality and liturgy. He regularly teaches at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, and has co-taught with DDH alumnus and trustee Clark Williamson. Mr. Williamson, who helped to arrange the internship and was an invaluable interlocutor during its course, is a pioneering figure in addressing Christian anti-Jewishness in theology.

February 03, 2016 —  

Yvonne Gilmore hosted a riveting forum on poetry on February 1, featuring guest artists and her own spoken word poetry. Among the highlights of the evening was a collaboration between Dean Gilmore and pianist Braxton Shelley. Mr. Shelley is an MDiv student in the Divinity School and a PhD student in the Department of Music. In addition to being Associate Dean, Ms. Gilmore is also a member of the Cornel West Theory band. The evening began with a service in the Chapel of the Holy Grail, at which House Scholar Danielle Cox preached, and included a festive meal prepared by Chef Luke Joyner featuring empanadas, roasted plantains, and Mexican hot chocolate.

January 29, 2016 —  

A wildly popular exhibit in Washington DC explores the glories of mundane things. Kris Culp blogs about the exhibition and the yearning for wonder in this cultural moment for the Enhancing Life Project blog. She is one of 35 scholars in the 26-month-long project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and based at the University of Chicago and Ruhr Universitat Bochum, and directed by professors William Schweiker and Guenther Thomas. See the recent University of Chicago press release about the Project.

"The walls, washed in deep carmine and patterned with fanciful designs, drew me into the room. In the middle, something waved like a flag over an old octagonal wooden cabinet with its drawers akimbo. Approaching it, I saw that the flag was a wasps’ nest still attached to a branch. Odd bits of nature, mostly rather large and exotic insects, were arranged in the drawers. I glanced around. With a start, I realized that scores of them were marching and winging their ways up the walls, as if they had fled the cabinet. Each perfect specimen was pinned in perfect place—iridescent, striped, lunar green, leafy green, black lace winged, horned, polished—insect glitterati.

"Jennifer Angus’s work, In the midnight garden, plays on both early modern cabinets of curiosities (Wunderkammern, precursors to natural history museums) and the twentieth-century boxes of artist Joseph Cornell, placing the viewer inside them, as it were. Viewers are asked to surrender to the strange glories of the insect world, a world that is filled with astonishing, disturbing, and enchanting things...."

Read more here.

January 04, 2016 —  

Winter quarter begins today. With the new quarter and the new year comes a fresh schedule of chapel services and forums. A very diverse and creative itinerary of programs indicates the rich milieu of ideas, practices, and conversations in which House scholars, residents, and alumni/ae are immersed.

Our first forum, next Monday, January 11, will be presented by Sarah Hammerschlag, Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature, and Director of the MA Program at the Divinity School. This forum was rescheduled from autumn quarter.

We look forward to the participation of several alumni/ae in this quarter's programming, including Aaron Smith, Vy Nguyen, and Rebecca Anderson. Clark Gilpin will continue the Disciples History and Thought seminar, and Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore will present a forum entitled Poetry.

Current House Scholars Danielle Cox and Rachel Abdoler will preach at a chapel service, and House Resident Ingu Hwang will present the final forum of the quarter. Ms. Abdoler will also co-present a forum with Rabbi Dennis Sasso of Temple Beth El Zedeck, where she completed an internship last year. For the complete schedule of our winter quarter program, please click here.

November 15, 2015 —  

In July, the first "DDH StoryHour" came to the General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio. Eight live, first-person narratives on the theme of learning about one's self, or "Self: taught" were told by DDH alumni/ae and friends before a crowd of about 100.

The force behind the event was alumna Rebecca Anderson, a Chicago-area pastor with a background in playwriting. She curated the stories and worked with Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore to recruit the tellers and to host the event.

Did you miss the StoryHour at GA? Thanks to Adam Frieberg, you can listen to one of the stories, told by Marshall Dunn, on the new DDH podcast page, https://ddhchicago.simplecast.fm. More stories will be released in the coming months.

Rebecca Anderson previously curated a storytelling event for the 2014 CCIW Regional Assembly and, after offering a round of workshops last winter, a Monday night version featuring DDH students in March 2015.

An encore event, again preceded by student workshops and replete with spotlights, sound effects, and venturesome storytellers, is in the works for Monday, February 29. (That's right, leap day!)

October 29, 2015 —  

We remember Carol Browning with fondness and appreciation. She died October 12 at Montgomery Place in Hyde Park. She was 79. She was a musician, an organist and a teacher of piano, and partner in work and life with the late Don S. Browning. Born in Edinburgh, Illinois, she spent her early years on a farm and attended a one-room school house. She began playing the piano early in life, and was giving piano lessons when she was twelve. A music graduate of Northwestern University, she taught music, was an accompanist for the Lyric Opera, taught private piano lessons to generations of students, and served as a church musician for more than thirty years, including as choir director and organist at University Church. During Don Browning's tenure as Dean of the Disciples Divinity House (1977-83), Carol Browning was involved in the life of the House through piano and organ recitals and her famous "pie nights" given at the Browning home. Later, she became involved in research on the family in postmodern culture when Don Browning conducted a major grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., on Religion, Family, and Culture. Together with their nephew, Peter Browning, the Brownings established the Browning Family Fund at the Disciples Divinity House in 1994.

Carol LaVeta Kohl met Don Browning at the Disciples Divinity House when they were both students. They married in 1958, raised two children, and shared more than fifty years of marriage before Mr. Browning's death in 2010. Carol Browning is survived by her children, Elizabeth (Mikael Karlstrom) and Christopher (Jodi Ford); two granddaughters, Kristin and Livia; and sisters Myrna Beck (Lowell) and Peggy Quinn (Patrick). A memorial service was held November 14 at Hyde Park Union Church in Chicago.

October 11, 2015 —  

Since early August, House Scholar and MDiv student Judith Guy has been immersed in an internship in congregational ministry at First Christian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. The full-time internship will last nine months. She sought the internship opportunity, which is principally funded by the Disciples Divinity House, to further develop pastoral leadership skills. She also wanted to explore the place of writing among the arts of ministry. Judith Guy found an ideal mentor in Lee Hull Moses, an author of several books, the congregation's senior minister, and a DDH alumna (and current President of the Board of Trustees).

In addition to shadowing Ms. Hull Moses, Ms. Guy has been helping with adult Christian education, leading a small group, sharing pastoral care calls, leading worship, and preaching once a month. She comments, "I am learning how to reflect and then, based on those reflections, do ministry. I am learning from Pastor Lee how to listen to God through the voices of the community and help them hear this message. I am learning how to learn in public, which inevitably means to fail in public, and still continue in public ministry. In essence I am learning ministry and I am so grateful."

September 23, 2015 —  

We welcome five entering Disciples Divinity House Scholars for the 2015-16 academic year. Four will begin ministry studies and the MDiv degree program at the Divinity School and another will begin the PhD program in Theology.

Jonathan Cahill (MDiv) was a resident in the National Benevolent Association’s inaugural Xplor Program last year. During the year, he lived in community with three other young adults in Hiram, Ohio, served with Mantua Center Christian Church, and volunteered with the InterReligious Task Force on Central America in Cleveland. He is a 2014 cum laude graduate of Washington and Lee University, where he majored in History, minored in French, and received the Elizabeth B. Garrett prize in History. He has studied in France and Vietnam and volunteered in India. He has been a Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern and, at Union Avenue Christian Church in St. Louis, a Disciples Home Mission intern. He is from Pekin, Illinois.

Devon Crawford (MDiv) is a 2015 graduate of Morehouse College, where he majored in Philosophy, received the 2015 Martin Luther King Scholarship, and was president of the Martin Luther King Jr Chapel internship program. After graduation, he traveled to Turkey to learn about Islam and the Hizmet Movement, led by Fethullah Gülen. In July he was a John Lewis Fellow at the Center for Human and Civil Rights in Atlanta. He has held an Oprah Winfrey International fellowship and served as an intern of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2013 and 2014, he was an intern at Trinity UCC in Chicago and lived at DDH. Experiences at DDH led him to join Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia. He plans to pursue dual UCC-Disciples ordination.

Hannah Fitch (MDiv) recently concluded her service as Youth and Young Adult Associate at Central Christian Church in Decatur, Illinois (where Michael Karunas is the Senior Minister). The innovative young adult program that she created, Stained Glass, was recently featured in a publication of Hope Partnerships/Church Extension of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A talented musician, she is a 2012 Vocal performance graduate of Millikin University. She has been very active in the Christian Church in Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW), and currently serves on the regional assembly planning team.

Colton Lott (MDiv) is a 2015 summa cum laude graduate of Eureka College, where he majored in Religion and Philosophy. His thesis developed a theological analysis of the emergent church movement. He gave notable leadership on campus, including as student body president, chapel intern, and president of Disciples on Campus. He was a Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) Undergraduate Leadership Fellow. He has been a student intern at First Christian Church in Creve Coeur, Illinois, and a summer intern and Youth Enrichment Summer Program (YESP) Coordinator for Christian Community Action, Inc., in New Haven, CT. His home church is First Christian Church, Ada, Oklahoma.

Hye In Park (PhD, Theology) returns after having received her MDiv degree from the Divinity School as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar in August. She is a BA graduate of Yonsei University in South Korea. She is a member of First Christian Church of Downers Grove, Illinois, where she completed field education. She has been involved in service to the CCIW and with NAPAD (North American Pacific Asian Disciples). She is interested in constructing a theological anthropology that is responsive to psychological suffering and addresses how such suffering affects contemporary Christian subjectivity and identity formation. She brings a background in liberation theology to this project, and she hopes to include the voices of marginalized cultures, races, and genders in her studies.

September 10, 2015 —  

An exchange/conference between Disciples Divinity House and the Theologisches Studienhaus (TSH) in Heidelberg, Germany, allows a small contingent of trustees and students from two similarly structured educational institutions to build relations with each other and between the institutions while also exploring theological heritage, practice, and common concern. It is funded by DDH’s William Henry Hoover Lectureship in Christian Unity. The first meeting based in Heidelberg at Morata-Haus on the Neckar River this summer, September 10 – 17, will be followed by a second meeting in Chicago next summer.

Dean Kris Culp is leading the delegation from DDH along with Trustees Pamela James Jones, Michael Karunas, Angela Kaufman, and Mareta Smith, and House Scholars Joel Brown, Douglas Collins, Judith Guy, Mark Lambert, and Virginia White. Hosted by Rev. Dr. Heike Springhart, Studienleiterin Theologisches Studienhaus, the conference includes paper presentations from participants, discussions of texts, worship, and tours to two important sites in eastern Germany and in the life of Martin Luther, Erfurt and Eisenach/Wartburg Castle. It will also include an opportunity to meet with Heino Falcke, a prominent GDR pastor.