News Releases

March 17, 2020 —  

Effective 3/17 and continuing until further notice, the physical DDH offices will no longer be open on a daily basis. Administrative staff will work remotely. We look forward to hearing from you by email, telephone, mail, and on facebook.

All University of Chicago courses will be taught remotely for the spring quarter. DDH scholarship recipients will receive stipendiary and scholarship support as planned for the spring quarter.

Approximately half of the usual number of students will continue living at DDH during the spring quarter; we believe that this decreased number will help minimize everyone's chances of exposure to the virus. Building maintenance will continue with enhanced cleaning protocols. We are all practicing vigilance for each others' health and learning new habits of mindfulness for each others' well-being.

Monday chapel services, dinners, and programs will be suspended for the spring quarter. Guest rooms will not be available for rental, and groups may not schedule meetings in the building until further notice. The Board of Trustees will hold its April meeting remotely, and the Alumni/ae Council will postpone its meeting until the October.

DDH is following the lead, recommendations, and guidelines of the University of Chicago. Additional details and resources, including health-related contact information, are available at the University’s COVID-19 website, which is constantly being updated. 

These are unusual times and unusually stressful times. Many things basic to everyday student life and the wider context of our lives seems to have shifted and to continue to shift rapidly. I and the DDH staff are committed to this community and its health and safety, as well as to easing whatever stresses we can. We are grateful, too, for the support of alumni/ae and friends, to how our connections and care extend across the miles and the generations.  

Kristine A. Culp, Dean

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March 03, 2020 —  

Patricia Duncan and Vy Nguyen have begun elected terms on the Board of Trustees of the Disciples Divinity House, effective January 1. They are both DDH alums. 

Patricia "Tish" Duncan brings the perspective of a rising biblical scholar and professor to her service on the Board. An MDiv and PhD graduate of the University of Chicago, she is Assistant Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a New Testament scholar, widely admired teacher, ordained Disciples minister, and the author of Novel Hermeneutics in the Greek Pseudo-Clementine Romance. One of her students, Paige Spencer, became a House Scholar this past fall when she entered the MA program in the Divinity School. She and her family live in Fort Worth.

Vy Nguyen is Executive Director of the Week of Compassion. As the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Week of Compassion works with partners to alleviate suffering throughout the world. He brings global and ecumenical awareness, many years of experience building relationships among churches, volunteers, and partner organizations, and nonprofit expertise to the work of the Board. Previously he worked with Church World Service and the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. An MDiv alumnus of the University of Chicago, and a graduate of Texas Christian University, he is an ordained Disciples minister. He and his family live in Alameda, California.

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February 17, 2020 —  

The Disciples Divinity House is grateful for the sage and generous leadership of Constance U. Battle and James E. Stockdale, and for the many years their work has oriented and undergirded DDH’s mission. Dr. Battle’s service was toasted at an event at her home in November. Mr. Stockdale’s service was celebrated during the 125th celebration in May.

Constance Battle, a distinguished physician, nonprofit executive, and professor of medicine, was elected to the Board in 2003. Dr. Battle chaired the Scholarship Committee for several years and brought keen insight about leadership to Board discussions. A Roman Catholic laywoman from Maryland, she sometimes framed her observations as being from an “outsider,” but, in fact, she has known about the Disciples Divinity House and its work for many years.

Dr. Battle first became acquainted with DDH through alumnus Arthur A. Azlein. From 1973-95, she served as Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC, where she worked closely with him as he chaired the hospital’s board and served as the minister of the nearby Michigan Park Christian Church. Dr. Battle eventually served as the personal representative for Arthur Azlein’s estate, for which DDH was the sole beneficiary.    

Dr. Battle attended Trinity College and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science. In 1986 Dr. Battle was named president of the American Medical Women's Association, and in 1994 Washingtonian magazine recognized her as a Washingtonian of the Year. She has served as the chief executive for the National Museum of Women in the Arts and for the NIH Foundation. She would return to GW to teach pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, as a trustee and an alumni association officer, and, beginning in 2003, as a faculty member in the School of Public Health and Health Services. She received numerous teaching awards and is the editor of the textbook, Essentials of Public Health Biology (2009).

James Stockdale arrived at the Disciples Divinity House as a member of the entering class of 1952. After ordination, he served two congregations in Illinois, Orchard Street in Blue Island and First Christian in Mount Carmel. In the mid-sixties, he was called to University Christian Church in Seattle, Washington. He followed another alumnus, Robert Thomas, and the congregation continued to be a beacon of progressive ministry and community engagement. He served until retirement in 1994.

Recognized as an active and articulate advocate for the House, and bringing a love of interpretation, architecture, and the arts, Jim Stockdale was elected president of DDH's Alumni Council in 1984 and, two years later, to the Board of Trustees. From 1998-2001, he served as its vice president. At different times, he chaired Development and House Committees, and he served on the Nominating Committee. He served on the Centennial Campaign Committee, and it was his phrase that became the theme for DDH’s Centennial, “Threshold to Excellence.”

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February 01, 2020 —  

Russell M. Fuller, entering class of 1948, died at home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 15. He was 95. For forty years, from 1955 until his retirement in 1995, he served Memorial Christian Church in Ann Arbor; for his entire life, he worked for peace and justice.

"We find it impossible to describe the exponential power that Russell and Barbara Fuller generated in our local and global community, except to say that they aspired to live by Micah's call to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. Their example inspired all who knew them," the obituary in the Ann Arbor News observed. He died just one day before what would have been his and his beloved late wife Barbara's 72nd wedding anniversary.

Russell Fuller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on February 23, 1924, to Frank H. and Katherine M. Fuller. Following service in the Navy, he received an AB from the University of Michigan--as did Barbara Stauffer. They married in January 1948. That autumn, both began graduate studies at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where he entered as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar and earned his BD degree and she would earn a Masters degree. In those years, DDH did not grant funding to women; in later years, Barbara claimed her rightful place as an alumna. They both served on the DDH Alumni/ae Council and participated in other DDH events.

He was ordained in 1951 and served pastorates in both Chicago and Tucson. The Fullers returned to Ann Arbor in 1955, when he became pastor of Memorial Christian Church (MCC), now Journey of Faith Christian Church. "He was, first and foremost, our pastor," the congregation remembers. "He continued this tender, attentive care long after his formal retirement, visiting with folks over tea after church and hosting a standing Friday morning breakfast gathering for 'the old timers' and anyone else who'd come along. In addition to sharing God's love through this ministry of presence, Rev. Fuller's passion for justice was contagious." He was active in regional and general church work. The Fullers led forty family camps for the Michigan Region.

In the 1960s, he served as a member and chairperson of the Ann Arbor Human Relations Commission, the Ann Arbor Police Community Relations Commission, and the Civil Rights Coordinating Council. He was involved in the Vietnam War Peace movement and in early efforts for gay rights and AIDS patients. A member of the Disciples Peace Fellowship, he and Barbara helped found and later worked on the staff of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in Ann Arbor. She directed a Disciples program of reconciliation between the people of the US and Vietnam beginning in 1980. He coordinated the local CROP Hunger Walk for several years.

A voracious reader, Mr. Fuller worked his way through Sojourners' list entitled, "Reading the Classics May Save White Souls," this past summer. He treasured weekly Skype conversations about theology, politics, social issues, and more with Diane Moore of Harvard, a mentee and mentor. He was distressed by the growing divisions in our nation and world and the effects of privilege and inequality.

He is survived by his children, Barbara (Kelvin Seifert), Rusty (Jamie Saville), and Kit/Katherine, and four grandchildren. "He is also survived by the Winnells, the Thanksgiving Community (especially his McCrae girls), every kid who grew up in MCC, and too many others to name, but who call him theirs." He was preceded in death by his wife Barbara in 2014 and their son Robby. A celebration of his life will take place in  Ann Arbor on February 29 at 10:30 am, with luncheon reception to follow.

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December 17, 2019 —  

"Disciples Divinity House is so many things..." Current students and trustees reflect on the meaning of the House during this 125th anniversary year. View this new video on youtube or go to DDH's facebook page. We are grateful for what is to come and grateful for your support.

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December 02, 2019 —  

Katherine A. Dey was a lifelong member of the Disciples of Christ in part because her grandmother, who raised her, had seen the need for a congregation in northern Virginia and, in 1913, co-founded what would become the Wilson Boulevard Christian Church in Arlington. Katherine became one of the first two women elders of that congregation and the first female board chair in the Capital Area region.

During her lifetime, Katherine Dey also established two scholarships at the Disciples Divinity House: the M. Elizabeth Dey Scholarship in honor of her grandmother, and the Drum and Tenant Scholarship in honor of dear friends. She died in October 2017, at age 96. After a final gift was received this fall, her bequest of $465,601.88, had increased the total endowment for the Dey Scholarship to $365,576, and for the Drum and Tenant Scholarship to $299,616.

Like her grandmother, and also like her friends Florence Drum and Flo’s mother, Eleanor Tenant, Katherine Dey was a doer in the church and in life. She lived modestly in a two-bedroom home across from the public library in Arlington, Virginia. But, to use a phrase from the parable in Luke 12, she was rich toward God and others.

She knew what dedication and hard work meant. During World War II, she had moved to Florida to serve as a “Wendy the Welder”—that is, welding parts of ships and planes before “Rosie the Riveter” could even begin. During her 32-year career with the National Security Agency, she drove a car pool for the long daily commute to Fort Meade, Maryland. After retirement, she volunteered full-time for the local Red Cross and supported the humane society and her congregation, First Christian Church of Falls Church, Virginia.

Her generous estate gift was preceded by great generosity and attention during her lifetime. She built the scholarships through annual gifts, beginning in 1979. She corresponded with successive deans at DDH and, after the scholarships were first awarded (in 1993 and 1995), with their recipients.

“Dear Dean Culp,” she wrote in 1995. “To start off with, please call me Katherine. My grandmother, M. Elizabeth Dey (which is pronounced DIE) and I always refer to her as Mom, was born on December 17, 1876, the 4th of 10 children, on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Being 4th in line she quickly learned how to care for others.”

She continued, “Mom died in July 1968 at 91½ years old and because of her life, her concern for others, her religious convictions and insight into human nature and what she meant to me I felt something should be done to mark this. … In 1979, I saw the opportunity to establish a memorial to Mom in a way I thought best reflected her impact upon the church and humanity in general. Thus, the establishment of the M. Elizabeth Dey Fund.”

DDH alumnus Ray Schultz had been the minister at Wilson Boulevard since 1966. His pastorate was important to Ms. Dey, as well as to Ms. Drum, who had served on the pulpit committee that called him. He introduced Katherine Dey to DDH, and embodied its spirit.

The first recipient of the Dey Scholarship was Stephanie McLemore, who has now served for many years as the chaplain of the University of Lynchburg. Danielle Cox, one of Stephanie’s students who is now a senior minister in Avon, Indiana, became a recipient of the Drum and Tenant Scholarship. Perhaps most gratifyingly, Lee Hull Moses, another Dey Scholarship recipient, became one of Katherine’s own ministers. (Lee is now chief of staff in the Office of the General Minister and President of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.)

“Wow! You sent us a winner!!,” Katherine wrote on September 19, 2004. “Rev. Lee preached today and I think she went over great…. And do you know what—it’s an irony—or whatever you want to call it—but today would have been Florence’s (Drum) 80th birthday!! Wow—if that’s not something—!!!!”

What an extraordinary gift and legacy Katherine Dey has passed on to next generations of ministers and leaders from her grandmother, her church, her dear friends, and through the accumulation of her steadfast “doing,” generosity, and faithful attention. That is something. Indeed.

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November 15, 2019 —  

Aneesah Ettress, a second-year MDiv student, has been named the first recipient of the newly endowed Dr. Geunhee Yu and Mrs. Geunsoon Yu Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes high promise for innovative pastoral and intellectual leadership, especially within multicultural contexts.

Selection of the recipient is guided by the examples of Dr. Geunhee Yu and Mrs. Geunsoon Yu, two remarkable individuals whose intelligence, faith, love, and leadership have profoundly shaped the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and their own family. From 1992 until his retirement in 2011, Dr. Yu served as the inaugural Executive Pastor of the North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD). He had been the first among the NAPAD community to earn a PhD in Religion. Under Dr. Yu’s leadership, the number of NAPAD congregations grew exponentially, many new cultural and language groups became part of NAPAD, diverse young leaders were nurtured, and educational initiatives were created.

Ms. Ettress is a 2016 graduate of Occidental College. A post-baccalaureate fellowship supported her her work on an initiative to transform Occidental College’s Arts & Humanities curriculum. Recently she was selected as the Hannah Holborn Gray Graduate Student Fellow in Digital Scholarship at the University of Chicago Library.

The newly endowed Dr. Geunhee and Mrs. Geunsoon Yu Scholarship will help to ensure full tuition, stipend, and housing for innovative religious leaders and emerging scholars and to make possible opportunities for extended internships and study-travel for generations to come.

October 31, 2019 —  

Welcome new House Scholars Emily Springer (MA), Danny Sanchez (MDiv), Landon Wilcox (MA), Aneesah Ettress (MDiv), Monica Carmean (MDiv), Paige Spencer (MA), Benny VanDerburgh (MDiv), and Ross Allen (MDiv). Two are active at Chicago area new church starts. Monica Carmean is a member of Gilead Chicago, and Aneesah Ettress is a member of Root and Branch. Three come from Disciples-related colleges: Emily Springer (Bethany), Paige Spencer (TCU), and Landon Wilcox (Lynchburg). We are also pleased to welcome new House Residents Yi Liu, Dhruv Nagar, Abdullah Naveed, Linden Smith, Ania Urban, and Jiayi Zhu.

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July 26, 2019 —  

DDH’s 125th anniversary celebration continued at the biennial General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Des Moines, Iowa. Alexis Vaughan Kassim, Alumni/ae Council co-president, welcomed about one-hundred alums and friends to a luncheon on July 23.

The Council wanted to mark the anniversary in a special way, and decided to honor two individuals. “So many alums are doing great work in academia, local churches, in justice and mission organizations, and our Disciples general ministries,” she explained. “David Vargas and Clark Gilpin exemplify not only the excellence of that work, but also its breadth.” Mr. Gilpin and Mr. Vargas each spoke in response to the award, and their remarks are published here. Garry Sparks, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University, introduced them.

Alumni Beau Underwood and Tim Lee, who helped lead the Assembly as its First and Second Vice Moderators were acknowledged. Disciples General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens, an alumna, brought greetings and spoke of her admiration of the honorees. Dean Kris Culp sounded the theme, “Grateful for what is to come,” in her remarks.

Continuing the anniversary theme, President of the Board of Trustees April Lewton invited participation in the 125th anniversary campaign. The goals support the enduring mission of the House: to provide scholarships and immersive learning opportunities, and to make the historic building more accessible and welcoming. Over $2.5 million is already pledged or committed. “Each and every gift conveys hope for and belief in a future where community, curiosity, and courage continue to shape the world.”

Associate Dean Yvonne Gilmore and current student Victoria Wick concluded the program, leading the hymn of gratitude: O God, we praise thy holy name; God of Love, O God of Love. Our gratitude we here proclaim, hand in hand and heart to heart. For every gift, for every friend, for fellowships that never end….

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June 17, 2019 —  

On June 14, Disciples Divinity House marked the conclusion of its 124th academic year and celebrated its graduates. Among them were Disciples MDiv graduates Jack Veatch and Ellie Leech, AMRS graduate Devon Crawford, and ecumenical resident Noriko Kanahara, who earned her PhD in the Department of History. Veatch was ordained on July 14 at the First Christian Church in Stow, Ohio, on July 14, and will study at the Ecumenical Institute of the WCC in Bossey, Switzerland, next year. Leech, a member of Chicago Christian Church, will continue to serve children and youth there while she completes CPE and other ordination requirements. Look for the inspiring Convocation address by Allen V. Harris, DDH trustee and Regional Minister of the Christian Church in the Capital Area, entitled, “Reviving Our Passion for Faith Seeking Understanding: The Wilderness Imperative for Now.”