News and Events

Calendar of Events
News of Alumni/ae and Friends

In Memoriam: Carol L. Browning
carol browning10.29.15 - 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.

browningsCarol 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. The Brownings, together with their nephew, Peter Browning, established the Browning Family Fund at the Disciples Divinity House in 1994. She 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.

Learning public ministry in public: Judith Guy interns in Greensboro congregation
jg10.11.15 - 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."

2015 Entering Scholars announced
entering scholars09.23.15 - 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.

Theologisches Studienhaus (TSH) – Disciples Divinity House (DDH) Conference/Exchange
0MorataHaus9.10.15 - 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. 

groupDean 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. 

Podcast from DDH StoryHour: Laughter, learning, courage
Dunn08.22.15 -
 Listen to the courageous---and humorous---story told by Marshall Dunn, entitled "Integrating a Beach." It's available on the new DDH podcast page, The story takes place in Chicago at the height of the civil rights movement. Marshall Dunn, now retired as senior minister of University Christian Church in College Park, Maryland, and a DDH trustee, told this story at the "DDH StoryHour," which was held July 21 in conjunction with the General Assembly of the Christian Church meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

StoryHour flierAlumna Rebecca Anderson, a Chicago area pastor with a background in playwrighting and storytelling, curated the event, which was modeled on "The Moth Radio Hour" and other storytelling venues. She and Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore hosted the DDH StoryHour on July 21 at Double Comfort Restaurant in Columbus for a crowd of about one hundred.

Eight live, first-person narratives on the theme of learning about one's self, or "Self: taught" were told by Anderson, Gilmore, Dunn, and other DDH alumni/ae and friends: Judith Guy, Sandhya Jha, Michael Karunas, Terri Owens, and Justin Ziegler. Special thanks also to Adam Frieberg, who recorded the stories and edited the podcast.

Stay tuned for future stories....

Culp awarded Enhancing Life Project grant
08.15.15 - Dean Kris Culp has been named one of 35 international scholars in the Enhancing Life Project, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation at the University of Chicago and in collaboration with the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. The Project “explores an essential aspiration of human beings that moves persons and communities into the future. Given the profound expansion of human power through technology as well as advances in genetics, ecology, and other fields, the vulnerability and endangerment as well as the enhancement of life are dominant themes in the global age.”

banffHer research proposal is entitled “Glorious Life?” Her research will examine "glory" as a potential theological resources for thinking about the enhancement of vulnerable life. She plans to engage historical-theological debates about the glory of made things, such as architecture, and develop interdisciplinary reference points, especially the paintings of Mark Rothko, to offer a contemporary construal of glory.

The Enhancing Life Project began July 1, 2015, and continues through August 31, 2017. It includes a two-week summer seminar for each of the next three years to foster collaboration as well as to support individual research and writing. This year's seminar was held July 26 - August 9 at the Banff Center in the Canadian Rockies.

Williamson selected as Distinguished Alumnus
07.22.15 - Clark M. Williamson has been selected as Distinguished Alumnus. He was honored on July 21 at the DDH Luncheon at the General Assembly of the Christian Church(Disciples of Christ) meeting in Columbus, Ohio, where he gave his distinguished alumnus address. The Alumni/ae Council received several nominations for the award at their meeting in late April. They ultimately made a unanimous decision for Mr. Williamson, who is the Indiana Professor of Christian Thought Emeritus at Christian Theological Seminary, where he also served as Dean, and a pioneering architect of post-Holocaust Christian theology.


A prolific author and co-author of numerous volumes, he is greatly esteemed as a teacher and colleague, and he is one of the foremost theologians of his generation. He has said that "the purpose of Christian theology is to bring the church to self-understanding and self-criticism," and those purposes find exemplary expression in two of his most acclaimed books, A Guest in the House of Israel: Post-Holocaust Church Theology and Way of Blessing, Way of Life: A Christian Theology. He has been a compelling advocate for rethinking Christian theology, teaching, and preaching in light of Christian anti-Jewishness, and he has fostered that work in his writing and teaching, especially in the books noted above, in courses in seminaries, congregations, and synagogues, and in the three-volume lectionary commentary series, "Preaching without Prejudice," that he co-authored with Ronald J. Allen. He is a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House.

Panel discusses "The role of women in higher education and leadership"
HELM07.21.15 - Dean Kris Culp discussed women, leadership, and institutional change with three other female heads of Disciples-related schools at the General Assembly of the Christian Church, on Monday, July 20. The panel discussion was featured at the Higher Education and Leadership (HELM) dinner at the General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio. It was moderated by HELM President Chris Dorsey. Other panelists were Lexington Theological Seminary President Charisse Gillett, Culver Stockton College President Kelly Thompson, and Hiram College President Lori Varlotta. The panel discussed important positive changes in higher education institutions for women over the last 30 years, challenges women leaders still face in higher education, and how having more women in leadership affects higher education.

Lambert appointed Assistant Administrator
0DaetteLambert7.15.15 - Daette Lambert will become Assistant Administrator on a part-time basis, effective July 15. A summa cum laude BA and MA honors graduate of Truman State University, she brings six years of experience in educational administration. That experience includes two years at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business as Information Officer for the PhD Program office and two separate tenures at Truman State University as Staff Assistant to the Provost and, most recently, as Admissions Counselor for Transfer Programs. She also brings familiarity with DDH’s mission and students from her participation in its programs with spouse Mark Lambert, who has just finished his first year of PhD work as a House Scholar.

The term position coincides with Kris Culp’s grant from the Enhancing Life Project, which funds the dean's partial release time from July 1, 2015 - August 31, 2017 and thereby makes funding available for staff coverage. Ms. Lambert will work closely with the dean and with Administrator Marsha Peeler to undergird ongoing work and special projects.

Martin passes presidential gavel to Hull Moses; Other Board news
lhm06.08.15 - Alumna Lee Hull Moses has become President of the Board of Trustees.She is Senior Minister of First Christian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and serves on the board of the North Carolina Council of Churches and has been involved in the Young Clergy Women’s Project. She received the BA degree from Albion College and MDiv from the Divinity School, and is the co-author of two books, most recently Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People. Her writing has appeared in a number of online and print publications, including the Christian Century.

Former president Chad Martin handed her the gavel at the April Board meeting. He became President of the Board of Trustees in 2010 after having served as its Treasurer for several years. He led DDH in successfully navigating the harsh effects of the economic downturn and ultimately in strengthening its financial position, while also fostering a creative, collaborative spirit of Board leadership.

chmToasting Mr. Martin’s leadership, his predecessor Larry Bouchard wrote: Let me redefine “toast” as the pouring out of gratitude…. I am grateful for the “calm of mind” (a phrase from Milton in an entirely different context)—the calm of mind with which he has led the Board from the depths of the financial crisis our country faced and the House as well to the position we are in now, as strong as ever. He was able to pour himself into the part of being a good Board member and then a good President who … both gave and took good counsel from the dean and other chairs of the various committees. Pouring oneself into a part for others is, for me, a crucial category of love and friendship. And I am most grateful for Chad’s becoming a great friend to me—just as he has been a great friend to the House and its mission to the House Scholars. So Chad, to your calm mind, astute intelligence, good will, and great capacity for friendship, I raise this imaginary glass of sherry for a job exceedingly well done. You have all our gratitude.

Since 2012 Mr. Martin has been the CFO of P2 Energy Solutions, Denver, Colorado. Chad has an MBA from Stanford University and a BBA from Texas Christian University.

The new Vice President is Pamela James Jones, professor at Central Michigan University, MDiv and PhD graduate of the Divinity School, and a former DDH Resident. Paul Steinbrecher, an architect with Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) in Chicago, has become the Secretary of the Board. Mareta Smith, a Kansas City-based attorney, continues as Treasurer.

mkAlumnus Michael E. Karunas began service as a trustee with the April meeting. Since 2012, he has been Senior Minister of Central Christian Church in Decatur, Illinois, and previously served in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in Centralia, Illinois. He is a graduate of Butler University (BA) and the Divinity School (MDiv). Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he was mentored by DDH alumnus Russ Fuller. Mr. Karunas, in turn, has been a mentor to current Scholar Andrew Packman and incoming Scholar, Hannah Fitch. He has served on the Alumni/ae Council, the Week of Compassion Advisory Committee, and, from 1991-93, as a Global Mission Intern with the Division of Overseas Ministries in (East) Germany.

Ayanna Johnson Watkins to speak at Convocation
ayanna04.30.2015 - Ayanna Johnson Watkins will be the speaker at the 2015 Convocation, to be held Friday, June 12, beginning at 6:00 pm. DDH's Convocation is a formal service that marks the end of the academic year and celebrates the achievements of graduating Disciples House Scholars and ecumenical community members.

As Director of the National Benevolent Association's Incubate Initiative, Ms. Johnson Watkins seeks out and supports the development of new health and social service ministries as well as the Disciple social entrepreneurs who are starting them. After earning her BA in Sociology from Yale University, she earned the MDiv and MA in Social Service Administration degrees from the University of Chicago as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar. Ordained in 2004, she was the organizing pastor for Family of Hope Christian Church in the Chicago area. She has also served as a community organizer, a counselor for at-risk youth and adults with mental illness, and an advocate for public aid clients. For five years, she was the Director of Community Life at Chicago Theological Seminary. A former First Vice Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she has written for Disciples publications, published in The Christian Century magazine, and spoken on leadership, mentoring communities, domestic violence, and youth development. She and her husband, Rich, call Memphis home.

Convocation is held in the Chapel of the Holy Grail on the last Friday of the quarter. DDH's Convocation precedes the University’s Spring Convocation, which takes place in the main quadrangle on Saturday. The first DDH Convocation was held in 1933. Recent speakers have included Larry Bouchard, Don Browning, Frank Burch Brown, W. Clark Gilpin, Ana Gobledale, Claudia Highbaugh, Sandhya Rani Jha, Verity Jones, JoAnne Kagiwada, Hubert Locke, Daisy Machado, Holly McKissick, Mark Miller-McLemore, Lee Hull Moses, Stephanie Paulsell, David Vargas, Clark Williamson, and Geunhee Yu.

In Memoriam: Charles Harvey Lord (1924-2015)
chl04.06.2015 - Charles Harvey Lord, pastor of University Church from 1970 to 1989 and an alumnus of the Disciples Divinity House, died on April 3, 2015. The following is adapted from University Church's remembrance. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, he received his BA from Phillips University in 1945, and was ordained into the ministry in 1947. He received his BD from Union Theological Seminary in 1952. He entered the University of Chicago as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar, and received an MA from the Divinity School in 1965 and, later, a PhD.

After graduating from Phillips University, he married May Sweet (she was also a Phillips graduate). They raised three children, Timothy, Stephen, and Marilyn, and would share 63 years of marriage before her death in 2011. Three months after they were married, Harvey and May Sweet Lord began serving through the Disciples' Overseas Ministries in the Philippines. According to the DOM website, the Lords "desired to serve in one of the places that had suffered under occupation during WWII." They served from 1947-51, first at Northern Christian College (Laoag, Ilocas Norte) and next at the Christian Training School in Vigan. Finally, they went to Kabugao Apayao to work with the Apayao mountain tribe, where Harvey Lord founded and directed the Apayao High School which is still thriving today. He served as pastor of First Christian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, as the founding pastor of the Christian Church in Villa Park, Illinois, and as Dean of Students at the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He began his ministry at University Church in 1970, serving as co-minister with Charles Bayer until 1973 and with Peg Stern from 1973 to 1982. Long-time University Church member Madeleine Hamblin recalls, "Harvey was dynamic and not afraid to try new things, including a co-ministry with a female pastor and inviting folks to form a dance ministry at the church. He was instrumental and visionary when University Church combined with a mostly African American church and when he led the church in becoming a nuclear-free zone, a sanctuary church, and an open and affirming church when such things were quite daring."
After their retirements, Harvey and May Sweet Lord continued their witness for justice in many ways, among them, by becoming the cofounders of the Disciples Justice Action Network (DJAN). Late in his life, Mr. Lord lived with Parkinson's disease. Julian DeShazier, Senior Minister of University Church and a DDH Trustee, commended him as "a courageous example of the force of life."
Harvey Lord died on Good Friday. The words of his own 1983 Easter prayer seem apt: "Surprising God, Why do you startle us by turning up now in our midst?// Have we not learned your regular behavior? Recorded your ways in a book? Studied your coming and going in our schools? Explained your habits to the young?// Why, then, do you act in ways we do not expect? Hiding from us, then arriving unannounced?// And even now you surprise us, peeking at us from the crocus bud, dancing in the sparkle of a child’s eye, joining in where ordinary people talk of justice, standing on the stand with that witness there who will not deign to lie...." A memorial service is planned for Saturday, May 2, 2015, 1:00pm, at University Church.

Spring (quarter) has sprung
spring03.30.15 - Spring quarter began today, March 30. Its arrival also brings a new schedule of Monday events. A number of forums will feature theological reflection that joins experiential knowledge and extensive research. Monday dinner chef Erika Dornfield, who received her MDiv from the Divinity School last Friday, recently made a return trip to Tanzania with an ELCA delegation; she will speak about environmental ethics in Tanzania on April 13. On April 24, we'll host a conversation with alumna Sandhya Jha, Founder of the Oakland Peace Center, on her new book on race in America.

Many seasons of preparation for the future will culminate for our graduates this quarter. The senior ministry thesis, required of graduating MDiv students at the Divinity School, provides an opportunity for in-depth practical theological research on an issue in ministry. House Scholars Jeremy Fuzy and Allie Lundblad will give public presentations of their projects on May 4 and 11. Spring Convocation, June 12, will recognize the achievements of our graduates and the conclusion of DDH's 120th academic year.

A night of true stories - schedule change
stories02.18.15 - "A night of true stories," originally planned for March 2 is now scheduled for March 9 at 7pm. If you are a fan of "This American Life" or "The Moth" on public radio, you are going to love this: stories curated by alumna Rebecca Anderson. A related event at the CCIW Regional Assembly was a grand success, and this event brings the art of storytelling to the DDH Common Room. Some of the storytellers are DDH's own, and they have been preparing their stories with Ms. Anderson's expert help. Please note that the chapel service that evening will feature the theme of storytelling as well.

The change in the schedule is related to the recently announced event at the Divinity School, "Lessons from Selma: Then and Now," which will be held on Monday, March 2, in Swift Hall at 6:00pm with reception to follow. That event will be moderated by Prof. Dwight Hopkins and will include accounts by two Divinity faculty members, Martin Marty and Franklin Gamwell, who traveled to Selma for the Selma to Montgomery march fifty years ago in 1965, as well as reflections by Professors Curtis Evans and Jane Dailey.

Winter quarter events begin January 12
01.06.15 - "The start of winter quarter heralds new opportunities for learning and collaboration at the Disciples Divinity House," says Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore. "We invite you to be in conversation and interaction with us on Monday nights or from afar via our website or Facebook page." The full schedule is available online.

andrew joelsbcDisciples minister and New Testament scholar Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder will preach at our first chapel service of the quarter on Monday, January 12. An author, speaker, teacher, and Disciples minister, she earned her PhD from Vanderbilt University and writes on issues related to Bible in the public square and religion and pop culture. She also serves as Director of Theological Field Education at Chicago Theological Seminary. Following dinner that same night, PhD students Andrew Packman and Joel Brown will lead the quarter's first Disciples History and Thought seminar in considering worship and unity at the mid-twentieth century. They will look at essays produced by the Panel of Scholars just prior to the restructure and merger that created the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prof. Clark Gilpin will lead the second Disciples History and Thought seminar on February 23.

Forums will take up a variety of themes this quarter. Dr. Elizabeth Kieff, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the University's Pritzker School of Medicine, will explore health and spirituality within the context of student life on January 26. Raúl Zegarra, House resident and PhD student in Theology, will talk about his study of liberation and political theologies on February 16. We look forward to exploring fiction and historical narratives with Divinity School Professor Lucy Pick in a forum on February 2 as she discusses her new novel, Pilgrimage, and to learning and participating in the art of storytelling on March 9 (note new date) in a chapel service and forum led by alumna Rebecca Anderson, Associate Minister of Glencoe Union Church.

A remarkable invitation: Internships create learning opportunities
12.17.14 - She was observing the congregation's happy celebration of Simchat Torah, which marks the end of one year's cycle of reading the Torah. People were dancing with and unfurling the Torah scrolls. And then, incredibly, a scroll was placed in her arms, and she began to dance....

rachel_rabbiDennisHouse Scholar Rachel Abdoler is interning in Indianapolis this year, exploring models for interfaith cooperation and how preparation for Christian ministry can be formed by deep engagement with other religious communities. At Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, a synagogue affiliated with both the Conservative and Reconstructionist movements in Judaism, she is mentored by Senior Rabbi Dennis Sasso and being invited into congregational life and worship. During the other half of her week, Ms. Abdoler also works with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, which seeks to foster interfaith connections and opportunities. She participates in staff meetings and works with Executive Director Charlie Wiles and the CIC Board. She is developing dialogue groups among Muslim, Christian, and Jewish youth from three selected communities and also among area college students. The internship allows her "...the opportunity not only to gain experience in basic ministerial skills but also to think deeply about the tension involved in becoming part of a community outside of one's own tradition while simultaneously remaining distinct," she says.

Rachel Abdoler's internship is one of two that DDH has arranged and funded this year. The aim is to situate students in exceptional settings of ministry where they can explore their vocations and hone their abilities.

danielle_chapmanHouse Scholar Danielle Cox is in Orange, California, at Disciples-related Chapman University. At the Fish Interfaith Center, she is learning about campus ministry with Director of Church Relations Nancy Brink, Associate Director Cisa Payuyo, and Gail Stearns, Dean of Wallace All Faiths Chapel. Ms. Cox focuses on empowering students to organize events, service projects, and other faith programming, and recently facilitated student participation in an interfaith celebration at Homecoming. She works with the Interfaith Council, Disciples on Campus, and serves as a resource for seventeen other spiritual and religious groups. She also hopes to enhance programming for progressive Christians. "I love the work I'm doing," she says of her time so far, "and I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity to do it in such a supportive environment while I continue to learn, read, reflect, and grow."

Both scholars have completed two years of their MDiv studies and will return for their third year of study in 2015-16. In the meanwhile, they visit DDH once a quarter to keep up with their peers and advisers.

Constructive theology project plans underway
constructive12.09.14 - The constructive theologies project planning team met in Chicago last week: Yvonne Gilmore (project director), Jose Morales (PhD student DSF), Allie Lundblad (MDiv student DDH), Andrew Packman (PhD student DDH), Christian Watkins (MDiv grad Yale), and, not pictured, Alexis Kassim (MDiv grad DDH). The project seeks to ensure space for the peer development of creative, faithful, risk-taking theological thinking.

The project envisions cultivating innovative ideas that "move" across racial, vocational, intellectual and economic lines to address the challenges and possibilities that face the Disciples of Christ. Young Disciples leaders are already responding to these questions as they minister in traditional and transforming congregations, labor in the non-profit world, plant new congregations, and engage these questions in the academy. ("Young" here means persons who are still in or just out of graduate school.) While there is a loose network of such persons, they are dispersed across the country and are often located at the margins of the church, outside of formal denominational structures. This project seeks to connect them to one another and to galvanize shared constructive theological work. It is funded by a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation.

Renovations renew library, reconfigure offices
library11.30.14 - Students have been enjoying the rewards of recent renovations to DDH's Herbert Lockwood Willett Library and to the offices. New lighting makes for better reading and for better work on computers and tablets, and it is more aesthetically pleasing and energy-efficient. A new paint color scheme, inspired by the Indiana limestone on the building's exterior, brightens everything. Furnishings that were original to the building have been repurposed for offices and for new workstations in the library; entirely redone electrical wiring supports those spaces.

officeAofficessociate Dean Yvonne Gilmore's office is now on the first floor, a boon for her collaboration with students and with the dean. New "old" doors match existing woodwork and demarcate the deans' offices from the foyer. In the mailroom and cloakroom, ceilings have been restored to their original height and new built-in furnishings have been added to create workspace for student office assistants and storage; colors inspired by the chapel ceiling glimmer from the back of new, larger student mailboxes.

libraryThe project first took shape in conversations about the library among students and architect Paul Steinbrecher, a trustee who regularly attends Monday dinners and programs, and in planning for office spaces that support collaborative work between the dean and associate dean.

The project gained momentum when the Capital Area of the Christian Church included funding toward Willett Library refurbishment in its capital campaign.

Gratitude for Hubert Locke
hubert11.23.14 - Hubert G. Locke will conclude his distinguished service as a trustee at the end of this year. He was first elected in 1998. In addition to making estimable contributions to the Board of Trustees, he has regularly engaged DDH students. He is the John and Marguerite Corbally Professor of Public Service Emeritus at the University of Washington, where he also served as Dean of the Evans School of Public Affairs and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Mr. Locke is the author or editor of eleven volumes, including Searching for God in Godforsaken Times and Places: Reflections on the Holocaust, Racism, and Death and The Detroit Riot of 1967. He was a co-founder of the Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches and a former member of the Committee on Conscience of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. He was a 1959 BD graduate of the Federated Faculty at the University of Chicago.

Mr. Locke has been awarded seven honorary doctorates and numerous other honors. One citation noted: "His words clarify, unite and motivate. His actions embolden and inspire. With an eye towards the future, he challenges all to look deeper, to understand, and to act for the good of humanity." That depiction reflects his contributions to public life in the city of Detroit and elsewhere, as well as his career as a scholar of the Holocaust and his academic leadership in the field of Public Affairs. It also applies to his service as a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House, where he has clarified, motivated, and helped to attune DDH to the future.

His charge to DDH's graduates at the 2007 Convocation distills his own lifework: Whatever else you do, in whatever post to which you go, wherever you find yourself and whomever you become, ... remember that people apparently thought of Jesus first and foremost as a prophet—as one who spoke God's truths to his time, as we believe he does to all ages. That's what you must do, wherever you find yourself, willing, ready and able to speak truth to power, to speak out on behalf of the oppressed, the poor, the dispossessed, the marginalized to those who have the ability to make a difference in the world they confront, but who would just as soon forget or ignore the fact that such people exist.

Gilpin considers "Religion around Emily Dickinson"
GilpinBk11.11.14 - While Emily Dickinson's posthumously published poetry and letters "contain many explicitly religious themes and concepts, throughout her life she resisted joining her local church and rarely attended services." Clark Gilpin's new book, Religion Around Emily Dickinson, begins with this seeming paradox. He proposes, "first, that understanding the religious aspect of the surrounding culture enhances our appreciation of Emily Dickinson's poetry and, second, that her poetry casts light on features of religion in nineteenth-century America that might otherwise escape our attention. Religion, especially Protestant Christianity, was "around" Emily Dickinson not only in explicitly religious practices, literature, architecture, and ideas but also as an embedded influence on normative patterns of social organization in the era, including gender roles, education, and ideals of personal intimacy and fulfillment. Through her poetry, Dickinson imaginatively reshaped this richly textured religious inheritance to create her own personal perspective on what it might mean to be religious in the nineteenth century." This perspective proved to be far more than "merely" personal: "Dickinson's creative engagement with the religion around her has stimulated and challenged successive generations of readers in the United States and around the world." Listen to an interview with Clark Gilpin about his new book here.

wcgW. Clark Gilpin is the Margaret E. Burton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity and Theology in the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Interim Director of the Martin E. Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion. He is also the former Dean of the Disciples Divinity House, where he serves on the Board of Trustees and leads an ongoing seminar on Disciples History and Thought.

Pilot project gathers young clergy for renewal and reflection
alumretreat10.05.14 - A pilot group of MDiv alumni/ae--who have been actively engaged in ministry landscapes and who graduated between 2007 and 2010--returned to Chicago on October 3-4 for a time of peer-driven reflection and renewal. They gathered to share updates and case studies, to worship, to eat together and see a play, and to converse about glory, vulnerability and multiplicity in relation to their vocations and contexts of ministry. The Resourcing Young Clergy Leaders event arose from an initial idea by DDH alumnus Beau Underwood and former DDH resident Ben Varnum to their fellow Divinity School MDiv alumni/ae. Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore developed the project in collaboration with Cynthia Lindner, Director of the Ministry Program at the Divinity School and a DDH trustee. Fourteen alumni/ae returned for the event which was held at the Divinity School and at DDH.

alumretreatalumretreatThe project was jointly funded by the Divinity School and by an Oreon E. Scott Foundation grant to DDH. The Disciples Divinity House was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Scott Foundation to launch, test, and evaluate two peer-driven projects in leader development (see story below).

2014 Entering Scholars announced
entering201410.01.14 - Four new persons joined the ranks of Disciples Divinity House Scholars beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.

Joel A. Brown enters the PhD program in Religions in America. He comes with a ThM degree from Brite Divinity School, where his thesis treated three Dallas-Fort Worth area seminaries and their response to the Civil Rights movement. He writes, “My research interests took new shape as a result of better understanding the complexity and diversity within American religious historical scholarship today." He received the Disciples of Christ Historical Society’s Isaac Errett Award for his paper on Alexander Campbell’s views on race and class, and he is the author of “Concern for the Poor in the Nashville Bible School Tradition: David J. Lipscomb and James A. Harding,” Restoration Quarterly (2013). He is a 2009 summa cum laude BA graduate and a 2012 summa cum laude MDiv graduate of Abilene Christian University. He grew up in Oregon and is the child of ministers. He and his spouse, Erin James-Brown, were part of the leadership team of Galileo Christian Church, a new Disciples congregation in Mansfield, Texas.

Mark M. Lambert returns to pursue a PhD in Theology, having received his MA from the Divinity School in 2013 as a Disciples House Scholar. He served as House Council President in 2012-13. He is interested in leprosy and its stigma as “stubborn sections of the symbolic structure of Christianity, and potent parts of religious parlance. … [W]hen a bodily and medical condition becomes culpable in the sway of one’s social status, the result is a value-laden landscape which I believe theology is best equipped to navigate.” He is a 2010 magna cum laude BA graduate of Truman State University, where he majored in Philosophy & Religion (with Honors) and was selected as the department’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student. He was elected to Theta Alpha Kappa (Religion) and Eta Sigma Phi (Greek and Latin) honorary societies. In 2011, he was honored for “Best Undergraduate Paper” at the Midwest AAR meeting for “Baldwin IV: a Curious Case of Leprosy in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem,” and he presented a paper at the 2013 SBL meeting.

Virginia Johnston White enters the MDiv program. She is a 2013 magna cum laude BA graduate of Rice University, where she majored in Sociology and History and earned departmental honors and the University’s highest research prizes. She worked with Rice's Religion and Public Life Program as an undergraduate and then post-baccalaureate research fellow, managing the “Religious Understandings of Science” study funded by the Templeton Foundation. Her undergraduate thesis examined African American Protestants’ views of science education. She has co-authored review articles and presented academic papers. She was a HELM Fellow, a volunteer writing tutor, an intern at the Journal of Feminist Economics and at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, and leader of student groups; she studied abroad in London and participated in the NCC’s Young Women’s Leadership Experience at the UN. She writes: “I understand ministry as an act aimed toward revolutionizing communities toward positive change, focused on caring for others even when it is difficult, and acknowledging the dual brokenness and potential for good in all persons.” A life-long Disciple and “preacher’s kid,” her home church is University Christian, Austin, Texas.

“Van” VanBebber enters the AMRS program to explore long-standing interests in religion and next steps in his second career. He reflects that, as the child of a minister, he has long been deeply interested in “that which my Dad and family committed their entire lives, with the concomitant sacrifices, in the care and education of others in the service of their beliefs…. In my case, [following those interests] traveled the circuitous path through prior academic and professional pursuits....” Van earned the BS and MS in Business and Accounting at the University of North Texas, graduating summa cum laude. In 1993 he earned a JD at Columbia University with Stone Scholar honors, where he was a Stone Moot Court Semi-Finalist, served on the Human Rights Law Review, Law Revue show cast, Columbia-Harlem Tutorial Program, and Reunion Committee. Later, he was elected an equity partner in the Trial and Litigation Section of the Dallas firm, Hughes & Luce, LLP. He has served as an adjunct professor in law and in business. He was active in the Dallas Bar Association, especially in its mentoring program for at-risk Dallas public school children. He left law practice to pursue a PhD at UNT in Interdisciplinary Information Science, which he received earlier this year.

Scott grant to fund “the House beyond the House”
08.15.14 - Disciples Divinity House has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation to launch, test, and evaluate two peer-driven projects in leader development: 1) The Constructive Theologies project and 2) a Resourcing Young Clergy Leaders event. Both projects effectively move “the House” beyond “the House,” insofar as the reach of each project extends beyond current Disciples Divinity House students, not only to DDH alumni/ae who serve across the U.S., but also to other emerging Disciples theological leaders, in one project, and, in the other, to their former ecumenical classmates (and now fellow graduates) at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. The grant provides resources for these projects to develop in conversation among alumni/ae and student leaders. Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore will serve as project manager.

Disciples students Andrew Packman (PhD student in Theology and co-founding pastor of Root and Branch, a new church start), Allie Lundblad (MDiv student), and Christian Watkins (2014 Yale MDiv graduate) initiated the Constructive Theologies project with an interest in connecting with peers from across the Disciples of Christ. The project envisions cultivating innovative ideas that “move” across racial, vocational, intellectual and economic lines--an "idea trust" ensures space for the peer development of creative, faithful, risk-taking theological thinking. Participants in this project are peers in the sense that they share a common generational frame of reference (ages 25 to 35) and a common hope to create effective roads to personal and ecclesial transformation, and especially to becoming a pro-reconciling and anti-racist church.

The Resourcing Young Clergy Leaders event was developed out of an appeal by alumnus Beau Underwood and former resident Ben Varnum to their fellow Divinity School MDiv alumni/ae. It will initially take the form of a “Ministry Alumni/ae Retreat” in collaboration with the Divinity School on October 3-4, 2014, in Hyde Park. A pilot group of MDiv alumni/ae who have been actively engaged in ministry landscapes and graduated between 2007 and 2010 have been invited to return for a time of peer-driven reflection and renewal.

DDH hosts NAPAD Convocation, lifts up connections
0dtk7.29.14 - The North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD) will hold its 18th Biennial Convocation in Hyde Park, August 6-9. The gathering will bring 150 Disciples together for worship, fellowship, business meetings, and educational events. Sixty years ago in June 1954, David T. Kagiwada, a second generation Japanese American Disciple who suffered internment during the Second World War, graduated from DDH and the Divinity School and was ordained. Together with Soongook Choi and Harold Johnson, he became a founding force in the establishment of the American Asian Disciples (later NAPAD). A pastor and compassionate advocate for justice, he would become its first convener and the first of many DDH graduates to give leadership to NAPAD and the first of many connections between NAPAD and DDH. NAPAD moderator-elect John Roh and past moderator and historian Timothy Lee are DDH alumni, as are Disciples and NAPAD leaders April Lewton, Vy Nguyen, and Sandhya Jha. Key NAPAD figures also provide leadership at DDH: JoAnne Kagiwada, a retired attorney and nonprofit leader, is a longtime DDH trustee; April Lewton and Gaylord Yu also currently serve as DDH trustees.

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