Distinguished Alumna/us Award

Distinguished Alumni - 125th Year

The Distinguished Alumna/us Award recognizes lifelong service and achievement by a Disciples Divinity House alumna or alumnus. The recipients have been exemplars of varied forms of ministry and service; in some sense, they have each defined these forms. The award, established in 1979, is given every other year. The Alumni/ae Council receives nominations, selects the recipient, and presents the award.

Clark Gilpin and David Vargas receive 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards

W. Clark Gilpin, former dean, and David A. Vargas, President Emeritus of Division of Overseas Ministries, were selected by the Alumni/ae Council of Disciples Divinity House as special 125th anniversary recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award.

Clark Gilpin began his teaching career at Kenyon College, Ohio, and then joined the Phillips Theological Seminary faculty before becoming DDH Dean in 1984. He is the Margaret E. Burton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the Divinity School where he served as dean from 1990 to 2000. From 2000 to 2004 he directed the Martin Marty Center, and he has also served as the director of the university’s Nicholson Center for British Studies and as a member of the executive council of the Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

He studies the history of modern Christianity, especially in relation to literature, and is currently writing about the letter from prison as a genre of religious literature in early modern England. He is the author of three books: A Preface to Theology, Millenarian Piety of Roger Williams, and Religion Around Emily Dickinson. He is also the editor of American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity with Catherine A. BrekusHe has served as a DDH trustee since 2011, and led the Disciples History and Thought seminar at DDH on a volunteer basis for more than a decade.

David Vargas's 28 years of service with the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) included ministry as the Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean, and culminated in his service, from 2003-11, as the President of DOM and Co-Executive of Global Ministries. He having helped to define Critical Presence as the priority in mission of Global Ministries, “the sacred project of meeting God’s people and creation at the point of deepest need.” Under his leadership, DOM launched a series of program initiatives toward “A Global Mission Church.”

He entered Disciples Divinity House in 1971 as a doctoral student in History of Christianity, having earned his BA from the University of Puerto Rico, and his MDiv at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico (SEPR). In 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. He was one of twelve recipients of the Somos Uno award at Obra Hispana in 2018. An ordained minister in the Christian Church, he served as a member of the Alumni/ae Council from 1992-1995, and has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1999. 

W. Clark Gilpin and David A. Vargas were honored at a special 125th Anniversary edition of the DDH Luncheon on July 23 at the General Assembly in Des Moines, Iowa. Garry Sparks introduced them.

Award Recipients

Scroll over entries and click to access their addresses.

1991 Frank C. Mabee

1989 William N. Weaver

1987 Marvin E. Smith, Crisis in the Christian Church
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1985 Robert A. Thomas

1983 K. Barton Hunter

1981 Irvin E. Lunger

1979 Arthur A. Azlein