Disciples Divinity House

of the University of Chicago

In Memoriam: Amy Ann Northcutt, 1959-2017

May 07, 2017 —  

Alumna and former President of the Board of Trustees, Amy A. Northcutt, passed away peacefully on May 6. She was 57. She was diagnosed on April 27 with a brain tumor. She died from complications related to the tumor. Amy is survived by her husband, Craig Middlebrook, of Falls Church, Virginia, and their children, Henry (17) and Ella Bo Lei Middlebrook (13). She is also survived by her sisters, Nancy Trench (Winston) of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Kay Lynn Northcutt, the writer, a Disciples minister, and DDH alumna, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Amy was preceded in death by her parents, Clinton and Thelma Vaden Northcutt.

Born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, on December 18, 1959, Amy Northcutt graduated as valedictorian from Putnam City West High School in 1978 and matriculated at Smith College. She spent her junior year at Harvard University and graduated from Smith in 1982 with a BA in Government. She entered the University of Chicago in 1982 and earned her AMRS degree from the Divinity School in 1983. She served as Youth Minister of Western Oaks Christian Church in Oklahoma City before attending Boston College Law School, from which she graduated magna cum laude with a JD in 1987.

Amy Northcutt was serving as Chief Information Officer of the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the time of her death. She was named to the office in January 2012, and had responsibility for NSF's information technology investments, governance, policy, and planning. “She enacted a continuous Information Technology modernization approach which has brought innumerable advances to our day-to-day lives,” NSF Director France Córdova said. “These contributions will impact and improve NSF’s business operations for years to come.” She was recognized by FedScoop as one of the "Top Women in Tech 2017".

She had held positions at NSF as Acting Office Head, Information and Resource Management and, from 2001-2011, as Deputy General Counsel. Prior to NSF, Ms. Northcutt was the Vice President for Administration of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Before moving to Washington, DC, in 1991, she practiced law at Crowe and Dunlevy in Oklahoma City. She was a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association. She served on numerous boards of directors and received many awards and recognitions throughout her career. Most recently she served as a Director for the In Trust Center for Theological Schools as well as the Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies.

In 1993, Ms. Northcutt became a member of DDH’s Board of Trustees, serving until December 2010. She served as its president from 1999-2005. During her presidency, the Board grappled with accelerating tuition costs and significant capital expenditures; over $2 million was added to the endowment. The long range planning process clarified the work of the House and of its Board, and the Board evolved to a new model of work that incorporated study and fostered a “think tank” approach. She was the first woman to serve as president. We counted on her warmth and intelligence, on her ability to plan and lead, and on her love of the House and commitment to its mission.

Amy Northcutt was a person of strong and committed faith. In Washington, DC, she attended the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, where she served as Council President. She knew herself to be a beloved child of God, and she gratefully opened her heart and home freely to all, particularly those in need. She was an organ donor.

Her life will be celebrated at a memorial service at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC, on Saturday, June 17, 2017, at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to create a scholarship in Amy’s memory to support women pursuing theological studies. Donations can be made to the Amy A. Northcutt Fund, checks payable to "The Disciples Divinity House" at 1156 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60637-1536, or online.

DDH luncheon at General Assembly 2017

May 03, 2017 —  

Join us for the Disciples Divinity House luncheon in Indianapolis at the General Assembly on July 11, 2017 at the J.W. Marriott. The Alumni/ae Council will present the biennial Distinguished Alumnus/a award, and it's a wonderful time to get re-acquainted with old friends, and to meet new friends. Tickets are $25. They can be purchased online here or by
e-mailing ddhadmin@gmail.com to reserve tickets. 

Dean Gilmore to preach at Eureka College

May 02, 2017 —  

Associate Dean Gilmore will preach Friday, May 5, at Eureka College's Baccalaureate at 6:00 pm in Becker Auditorium. In addition to being Associate Dean at DDH, Gilmore serves as a member of the Board of Directors of HELM, co-teaches a course in the Divinity School's Arts of Ministry sequence, and is a poet and a spoken word artist. She is in demand as a speaker and preacher and as an anti-racism trainer with Reconciliation Ministry. Gilmore has preached, lectured, and/or performed at varied educational institutions and denominational events, and as a member of Cornel West Theory she has performed in a number of venues and been interviewed on the radio. You can read more here.

Laurie Zoloth appointed Divinity School Dean

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.)

Lee, Underwood nominated to moderator team

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.

Teresa Hord Owens nominated for GMP

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.

Bell-Haynes to Central Rocky Mountain Region

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.

There IS a balm in Gilead

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

Come on in where the conversation is warm

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.

In Memoriam: Ned R. Lavengood Sr, 1928-2016

December 30, 2016 —  

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.