Benny VanDerburgh and Lijia Xie have been selected as the inaugural Theological Education Leadership Fellows. They begin in September.
Functioning as members of the Disciples Divinity House professional staff, Fellows will be engaged in aspects of educational and non-profit leadership on a schedule aligned with the academic year. Fellows will each develop a special focus.
Benny VanDerburgh, a current DDH Scholar, will receive his MDiv degree from the Divinity School in June. He is a 2015 magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College with a BA in English and a 2019 MAPH graduate of the University of Chicago. He currently coordinates DDH’s chapel services and serves as librarian and as the House Council co-president; he is also a pastoral associate at St. Pauls UCC. His fellowship project involves developing a model of digitized mutual aid that will curate materials and spotlight trustworthy resources. He intends to pursue doctoral studies to critically examine the religious lives of movement workers and collectives and, specifically, of early waves of HIV/AIDS activism outside of religious institutions.
Lijia Xie will receive his MDiv degree from the Divinity School in August. He completed field education at Urban Village Church in Chicago. He is a 2017 cum laude graduate of Harvard University where he majored in Computer Science and minored in Statistics. After college he worked as a software engineer for eBay in New York City. Lijia’s project for the fellowship is to develop pedagogy and contexts for “revitalizing theological fluency for human flourishing.” He hopes to continue similar work in a PhD program: “a revitalizing of theology in the fraught arena of public discourse, a reclamation … which I believe is indispensable to the flourishing of humanity and society.”