News of Alums & Friends

Welcome to the world, David Walker Bateman! Proud parents are Danielle Cox (2012) and Samuel Bateman. Walker arrived on May 28 at 5:28 am, weighing 8 lbs., 10 oz.

Joel Brown, a PhD candidate in Religions in the Americas, has been awarded a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the Divinity School for "Preparing the Way: African American Women and Social Christianity in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago."

Former resident Braxton Shelley, path-breaking theorist of African American sacred music and author of Healing for the Soul: Richard Smallwood, the Vamp, and the Gospel Imagination (Oxford, 2021), has been appointed to a tenured position at Yale University as an associate professor in the Institute of Sacred Music, the Divinity School, and the Department of Music. He will be faculty director of the new interdisciplinary Program in Music and the Black Church in Yale's renowned Institute of Sacred Music.

Garry Sparks (2001) shared his research on Maya and Christian doctrines of divinity during a Monday night forum on May 17, 2021. An associate professor at George Mason University, his research attends to the periods of first contact between Iberian mendicant missionaries and native Mesoamericans. Since 1995 he has worked and conducted fieldwork and language study among the K'iche' and Kaqchikel Maya of Guatemala.

In Memoriam, May 12, 2021. Ruben I. Cruz (1963) was Pastor of First Spanish Christian Church from 1964-2019. It is the oldest Spanish-speaking Protestant congregation in Chicago, founded in 1960. He was a well-known media figure as a television and radio host and newspaper columnist. He produced and hosted shows on WMAQ-TV, WCIU-TV, and FOX Chicago. He wrote the first bilingual news column in a major US newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. He received a local Emmy in 1972 for his coverage of the Hispanic community. "Su trayectoria profesional en la televisión lo llevó a recibir mucho reconocimiento y vivió para impactar la comunidad Hispana." He was an important community and civic leader, sometimes joining forces with his late sisters Miriam and Rebecca Cruz. He was predeceased by his spouse, Karen, and is survived by his son, Jose.

Beau Underwood (2006) has concluded his service as Senior Minister of First Christian Church of Jefferson City, Missouri, to be a full-time PhD student at the University of Missouri-Columbia and to serve the publication Word & Way as Vice-President of External Affairs and Senior Editor,

Victoria Wick (2017) has been called by First Christian Church of Hagerstown, Maryland, as Associate Minister for Congregational and Community Care. She begins February 1. A June 2020 graduate, she was co-recipient of the Divinity School's Rhind Award (with fellow House graduate Kate Gerike!).

We are saddened to learn of the death of Sherry Drennen Bouchard on January 3 in Fort Worth, Texas. She was 90. She was the mother of Larry D. Bouchard (1974; trustee) and his siblings, Kathy, Kevin, and Kerry, and the widow of Tommie Bouchard. Ms. Bouchard was a retired elementary school teacher, and taught young children for forty years. She was active in Disciples congregations, including Midway Hills in Dallas and University Christian Church in Fort Worth. She was a great friend of the Disciples Divinity House.

Born in Stuttgart, Arkansas in 1930, Sherry lived a storied life. She literally grew up at the hospital where she was born, which had been built by her father, Sherod A. Drennen, MD, and her mother, Marguerite Owens Drennen (also a schoolteacher); attached to the hospital was an apartment where the family resided. Sherry liked to recall the family's fishing holidays on a houseboat and the times her father allowed her to observe surgeries while she stood on a stool in the O.R. She also enjoyed telling of the pet goat she once took for a walk through the halls of the hospital. From the age of three, she demonstrated talents in theater and music. Sherry Drennen Bouchard was a generous spirit who brought much wisdom and love into the world. Read the full obituary.

We celebrate the life of dear friend Ann Wallace Horton Burns, the widow of alumnus Benjamin Burns (1941), who died January 2 in Lexington, Kentucky. She had celebrated her 100th birthday in September. Although she knew she couldn't attend in person, she had sponsored the tea for the opening afternoon of the 125th celebration in May 2019. That was but one glimpse into her magnificent spirit. Born in Paris, Kentucky, she graduated from Transylvania College (now University) in 1942. She married Benjamin F. Burns, a fellow alumnus who eventually returned to Transylvania as Dean of Morrison Chapel. They enjoyed 58 years of marriage. She had a career as a teacher. At age 50, she received her Master's degree from the University of Kentucky. She was a mainstay of Central Christian Church in Lexington and also a national leader and speaker for the CWF. She is survived by nephews, great nieces, great nephews and many cousins. A memorial service will be planned for later in 2021. More here.

Congratulations to House Scholar Rachel Abdoler, who recently passed her PhD Qualifying Exams! A student of the History of Christianity, she also took exams in Early Islamic History and in Latin and Arabic Christian Hermeneutic Theory and Practice. Her oral exam included discussion of her paper, “Between Defense and Devotion: Buṭrus al-Sadamantī’s Tafsīr on the Passion of Christ in its Thirteenth Century Copto-Islamic Milieu.”