Scholarships and Immersive Learning

For decades, DDH's scholarship program and resident community, offered in connection with the University of Chicago Divinity School, has prepared creative thinkers and courageous leaders.

An expansion of scholarships and their innovative use

An expansion of scholarship funds--both in number and through innovative use of these funds to provide for new immersive learning opportunities--will help ensure that students are ready to provide ciritical ministry and scholarship in a globalized and swiftly changing world. Eight scholarships will become endowed with gifts of $250,000 or more; four have already been fully funded, full funding for the others is on the horizon. Dozens of friends, families, and colleagues have joined these efforts, contributing or pledging a total of $1.48 million in new scholarship funds.

M. Elizabeth Dey Scholarship / Drum and Tenant Scholarship

During her lifetime, Katherine A. Dey created two scholarships, one to remember her grandmother, M. Elizabeth Dey, and another to remember dear friends, Florence Drum and Flo’s mother, Eleanor Tenant.

A laywoman from Arlington, Virginia, she built the scholarships through annual gifts and an exchange of letters. When she died in 2017, at age 96, she had provided for a final gift. A bequest of $465,602, increased the total endowment for the Dey Scholarship to $365,576, and for the Drum and Tenant Scholarship to $299,616.

Ms. Dey was a lifelong member of the Disciples of Christ in part because her grandmother, “Mom,” who raised her, had seen the need for a congregation in northern Virginia. It became the Wilson Boulevard Christian Church in Arlington. After DDH alumnus M. Ray Schultz became its minister in 1966, Katherine became one of its first two women elders and, later, the first female board chair for the Capital Area region.

Like her grandmother and also like her friends Florence Drum and Eleanor Tenant, Katherine Dey was a doer in the church and in life. She lived modestly in a two-bedroom home across from the Arlington Public Library. She knew what dedication and hard work meant. In 1942 she moved to Jacksonville, Florida where she worked for two and a half years as a Class A Welder at the St. John’s River Shipbuilding Company—“Wendy the Welder,” she quipped, had to complete her work before “Rosie the Riveter” could even begin.

In 1948, she returned and began a thirty-two-year career with the National Security Agency, retiring in 1980. In retirement, she volunteered for the Arlington Red Cross chapter; in 2010, she was recognized for twenty-seven years and 23,375 hours of service.

Dr. Geunhee and Mrs. Geunsoon Yu Scholarship

The faith, intelligence, love, and leadership of Dr. and Mrs. Yu have profoundly shaped the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and their own family.

Geunhee Yu was the first Asian-American Disciple to earn a PhD in religion. From 1992 until his retirement in 2011, he served as the inaugural Executive Pastor of the North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD). He imaginatively extended a legacy from founders David and JoAnne Kagiwada, Soongook Choi, and Harold Johnson. The number of congregations grew exponentially, many new cultural and language groups became part of NAPAD, educational initiatives were created, and young leaders were nurtured—among them were Sandhya Jha, April Lewton, Tim Lee, Vy Nguyen, and John Roh.

DDH trustee Gaylord Yu with his brother, Gideon Yu, and their families, established the scholarship to honor their parents, to celebrate the long partnership between DDH and NAPAD, and to ensure innovative pastoral and intellectual leadership for future generations, especially within multicultural contexts. The scholarship was first awarded in 2019.

Its first recipient, MDiv student Aneesah Ettress, was nourished by a theological heritage of four generations of leadership in the Church of God in Christ on her mother’s side and her paternal grandmother’s membership in the Nation of Islam in the 1960s, a faith that empowered the blackness of her family. Experiences as a youth in a Southern California megachurch and, later, in global travel and the study of religion and art history at Occidental College, furthered her exploration and discernment.

She asks how works of art have allowed for “sacred attunement,” and “how these historical practices might make sacred attunement possible to those who are marginalized or excluded from the church today.” She pursued these questions in a dual field education placement at the University’s Smart Museum of Art and at Root and Branch Church, a new Disciples congregation.

Martin Family Scholarship

The Martin Family Scholarship for leadership in congregational ministry or scholarship and teaching, which was established at the Disciples Divinity House by Jerry and Donna Martin and Chad and Crista Martin, has reached the full funding level. It has been awarded for the first time in the 2020-21 academic year to House Scholar and PhD student Joel E. Brown.

The Martin family has seen the impact of DDH graduates firsthand. They established this scholarship to foster future leaders who will enrich the work of the church. Jerry Martin, a Disciples minister, got to know DDH and its students when he chaired the region’s Commission on Ministry. Donna Martin, who taught writing at a community college and was a lay leader in the region, especially appreciated the women graduates from the House she met in the wider church. An inheritance from her parents, Roy D. and Mary Zoe Heath, provided for the initial gift for this fund.

Chad Martin, their son, became a trustee. He had served with Kris Culp on the Administrative Committee of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also had the connection to the House through his parents. A graduate of TCU with an MBA from Stanford University, and now a CFO of a software company, he brought financial and executive expertise to the work of the DDH Board of Trustees. Over the last 20 years, he has given visionary leadership to the Board of Trustees, serving as treasurer, president, and, most recently, chair of the 125th Anniversary Celebration and Campaign. Crista Martin’s passion has animated the family’s commitment to women in ministry, congregations, and intelligent leadership.

Joel Brown, a PhD candidate in Religions in America, is the inaugural recipient. He studies how leaders of Black Chicago congregations shaped the Social Gospel movement. He recently served as editor of Sightings, the biweekly electronic publication of the Martin E. Marty Center at the Divinity School, and co-taught the Senior Ministry Project Seminar with Cynthia Lindner. Joel and Erin Brown with their daughter Margot, are resident assistants in the Undergraduate Housing System.

Barbara and Clark Williamson Scholarship

When Clark Williamson first arrived at the House in 1957, he thought, “I had finally found a place where I was intellectually and spiritually at home.” He would earn BD, MA, and PhD degrees and become an architect of post-Holocaust Christian theology, the author of more than twenty books, and the Indiana Professor of Christian Thought Emeritus at Christian Theological Seminary. He reflected, “I have come to see that loving questions and loving strangers (who bring their questions with them) is a requirement of Christian faith. Even more, it is a requirement of any authentic spirituality or pastoral leadership. After Auschwitz, unquestioning faith is pernicious.”

Clark and Barbara, his late wife, created this scholarship in gratitude for excellence in theological education and scholarship. Barbara was a student working in the Divinity School Dean’s Office when they met. She earned a BA in French and an MA in Linguistics from the University. Her deep commitment to justice and liberty informed her work as executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, in the United States Attorney's Office, and in the Federal Court House. Clark Williamson is a trustee and was Honorary Co-chair of the 125th Anniversary Celebration.

Jim and Peggy Powell Scholarship

Reflecting on their parents’ legacy, their love and encouragement of their children and the church, and their ministry over the past forty plus years, spurred the Powells’ children to act. Drew Powell and his great friend, Gaylord Yu, consulted with Jim and came up with the plan to endow the scholarship. Peggy agreed whole-heartedly, and Laura, Than, Elizabeth, and their families joined in. “We have been captured by the bold vision and rich history of DDH,” Jim and Peggy explained. The scholarship honors them and expresses their “lifelong desire to find, support, and educate leaders for the church to serve the world.”

Much of their ministry involved new churches and funding for the buildings and infrastructure of our denomination. Jim’s formal work with DDH began after his retirement as President of Church Extension, but the relationship goes back many years, to an uncle and second cousin who were alumni—and also named James Powell.

Amy A. Northcutt Scholarship

Amy Northcutt was a person of deep faith who believed in the power of theological education. She was the Chief Information Officer of the National Science Foundation at the time of her death in May 2017. An attorney by training and a leader in government and nonprofit organizations, she was an alumna of DDH and former president of its Board of Trustees.

Her spouse, Craig Middlebrook, envisioned the scholarship as a way of honoring and sustaining Amy’s love of people and ideas, her relish in thinking creatively and critically to solve problems and build connections, and her sense of God’s grace in the world and our responsibility for each other. Scores of family, friends, and colleagues have contributed, allowing the scholarship to reach the $125,000 mark for DDH’s 125th anniversary. When fully funded, it will benefit promising women leaders who are pursuing theological studies at the University of Chicago.

Kristine A. Culp Scholarship

In 1991, Kris Culp became the first woman to serve as the chief executive officer of any graduate theological education institution of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This scholarship was initiated during the twenty-fifth anniversary of her deanship. Thanks to the generosity of a trustee, gifts made to the scholarship will be matched.