Convocation

Interreligious and nonprofit leader, Alexis Vaughan, will speak at DDH's Convocation on May 31, 2024. She is Managing Director of Domestic Operations, Week of Compassion, and a DDH Trustee. Convocation will mark the close of the 129th academic year of the Disciples Divinity House and will celebrate its Disciples and ecumenical and multi-religious residents. A service in the Chapel of the Holy Grail is scheduled for 6:00pm; it will be followed by toasts and dessert in the backyard. 

The first DDH Convocation was held in 1933. Recent speakers have included Rebecca Anderson, Larry Bouchard, Don Browning, Frank Burch Brown, J. Marshall Dunn, Yvonne T. Gilmore, W. Clark Gilpin, Ana Gobledale, Allen Harris, Claudia Highbaugh, Pamela James Jones, Sandhya Rani Jha, Verity Jones, JoAnne Kagiwada, Angela Kaufman, Hubert Locke, Daisy Machado, Holly McKissick, Mark Miller-McLemore, Lee Hull Moses, Teresa Hord Owens, Stephanie Paulsell, David Vargas, Clark Williamson, and Geunhee Yu.

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. Convocation is held in the Chapel of the Holy Grail and in conjunction with Divinity School and University graduation festivities.

A New Translation 2023

DDH marked the close of its 128th academic year on June 2, 2023. Five Disciples Scholars, Hiatt Allen (MDiv/MA in Public Policy), Alexa Dava (MDiv), Kerrigan Greene (AMRS), Landon Wilcox (MDiv), and Danny Sanchez (MDiv) were celebrated along with four ecumenical residents. Anna Stoneman, Nayeli Gonzalez, and Melissa Robohn received AM degrees and Trey Grizzard received the MA in Public Policy degree. Former residents and graduating MDivs, Shrada Jain and Emily King, joined in the celebration.

Rebecca Anderson, alumna, founding co-pastor of Gilead Church Chicago and Co-Pastor of Bethany United Church of Christ, spoke on learning to speak other language for the sake of love.

It turns out that part of what makes people "smart" here is learning a couple of specific languages. And I'm not talking just Hebrew, or Sanskrit, or Arabic, but the language of the academy, in which I never got totally fluent. (I speak conversational academy.) And specific theological language, which I did take to. Eschatology, hermeneutics, and, yet, telos, which I never use without thinking of Adam Frieberg. Who in fact said something shrugging and generous like, "It's just the way people here talk."

Each of you have learned, are learning, these languages. Some of it, I assure you, you'll forget right away or never use again. Some of it, you'll use on a first date and immediately regret it. But these are not the last languages you'll learn. They are not the last you'll need. This is not the only vocabulary you'll want...

You will find your people, wherever you go. And they will find you. You will end up with your own litany of saints, in and of and through this place. That's my belief, but it's also my blessing, my hope, for you today.

Extending Exodus 2022

DDH marked the close of its 127th academic year on June 3, 2022. Summer PhD graduates Joel Brown, Hyein Park, and Sarath Pillai were honored. Four Disciples Scholars were spring or summer MDiv graduates. Ross Allen, Monica Carmean, Emily Griffith, and Benny VanDerburgh. Three MA graduates were members of DDH’s interfaith residential community: Cetovimutti Cong, X.K. Ding, and Jeffrey Sanchez. Festivities began around 3pm outdoors before the service at 5pm: they concluded with dessert and toasts.

The 2022 Convocation speaker was Yvonne Gilmore, Interim Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation and Associate General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Taking Hebrews 11:39-12:3 as her text, Gilmore exhorted the graduates to re-read religion, “make the exodus movement legible,” and extend joy.

What makes exodus movement legible? What gives us eyes to see and comprehend the promise of liberation historically? What makes the work of exodus legible in the Hebrew Bible, in our text, and in the world today?, Gilmore asked. The subtext of our text is the practice of communal re-reading. It is re-reading religion that extends exodus movement and makes possibilities for future flourishing legible to us and our communities of care and service….

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews echoes promises, persons, and events from Israel’s past as they search for a better country and face an impermanent future by faith. References to ancients promises, inheritance, and land of promise are often associated with the exilic period. A closer read suggests that the author is not invoking exile. Rather, exodus and wilderness wandering is the core narrative. By faith, the persons in the text never entered the rest that was promised. The writer of the epistle extends the Exodus narrative and re-reads them as people in search of a promise. Through their lived experience, Israel is re-narrated as a people at the border of a promise that has yet to be realized. Extension isn’t merely an act of continuity or replication. It’s a constructive task. It’s the practice of resurrection. Extending and re-reading is the work of making memory legible, legacy available, researching and writing with clarity and courage.

Joy extends exodus moments and the movement of liberation between and among us. Gwendolyn Brooks, the legendary poet from Chicago, shared a word of caution with a group of students, "Don’t swallow. Chew!" Nourishment from food and the process of digestion is aided by chewing. Analogously, learning from experience is the product of chewing and conversation that doesn’t evade but integrates complexity. The church is a theological community that must actively practice faith seeking understanding as it locates and relocates lived experience in our shared life.

You have already begun the work of re-reading religion in this House. As you go from this fellowship and growing habitation of theological imagination, ecumenical daring and visionary scholarship and leadership that we call the Disciples Divinity House, may you continue to the rigorous and liberating work of re-reading religion as you discover and extend exodus movements, and make legible the vocation of community everywhere you study, live, and serve.

A Convocation of Joy 2021

On September 17 and 18, DDH’s 2020 and 2021 graduates returned for a delayed Convocation. The festivities provided a spirited welcome for new and returning students as well as the graduates. On Friday evening, a DDH StoryHour, hosted by alumnae Rebecca Anderson and Yvonne Gilmore, filled the courtyard with laughter and music. At the Saturday morning Convocation service, Marshall Dunn, an alumnus and trustee who is minister emeritus of University Christian Church in Hyattsville, Maryland, spoke about “The Joy of Jesus.”

Fanfare for Graduates 2020

DDH celebrated graduation and the close of its 125th academic year on June 12, 2020. Due to pandemic conditions, the fanfare for the graduates took place remotely. About 70 individuals gathered via Zoom to celebrate the graduates.

Picture yourselves seated in the Chapel of the Holy Grail light dancing on the polished tile floor. In front of you in the chancel window are those dreamers, the knights questing after the Holy Grail: Sir Galahad, Sir Percivale, Sir Bors....

Lean your heads back and look up.... On that azure sky of a ceiling, the chalices and patens fly away from the chancel, out of the chapel, into the world. They, like you graduates, fly to the fearful and grieving, to the raging and righteous, to seekers of salvation, to lovers and knowers; to congregations, hospitals, seminar rooms, street corners, protests, courtrooms. They fly to the whole world.

Graduates, these past years you have been preparing for extraordinary vocations with lessons learned in a familiar place that has now become strange. We send you out, not with answers, but with questions both practiced and made strange. How will you enter into your own selves? Acknowledge your own fears? Inhabit your own dreams? How does one go out into the whole world? What does it mean that safety cannot be taken for granted?

Graduates, be brave and winsome; be wise; be savvy; be full of heart, mind, and soul. May these questions continue to shape and to haunt you. May you always receive the gift of sharing life with others as unexpected, as grace. And may you always keep good comrades on the journey.  
- From remarks by Dean Kris Culp, 12 June 2020