News Releases

July 07, 2020 —  

John Emory McCaw, who had been DDH’s oldest living alumnus, died on June 29 in Des Moines, Iowa. He was 104. The son of a Disciples minister and one of four siblings, he was born March 3, 1917, to C.C. and Mildred McCaw in the small river town of Lomax, Illinois. He grew up mainly in Des Moines, where he was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated from Drake University. He would return to Drake to become the dean of its Bible College, which he led to full accreditation as Drake Divinity School (now defunct). After retirement, he continued to live on the southside of Des Moines, enjoying robust health and beekeeping, gardening, fishing, writing newspaper editorials and two novels, and maintaining extensive correspondence.

John McCaw entered the Divinity School of the University of Chicago as a Disciples Divinity House Scholar in 1939 and earned his BD degree. He was later a Fellow at Union Theological Seminary and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. In 1942, he married Maxine Mae Gambs, a concert pianist who studied at Drake University, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and Chicago Musical College. They would raise four children, Clayle, Milva, Maxhn, and Janine, and share 70 years of marriage before her death in 2013.

Mr. McCaw was a member of the Drake faculty from 1950 until 1982. He was instrumental in the construction of Medbury Hall and Scott Chapel and received numerous recognitions, including the Centennial Award, the Dawson Award, the Alumni Distinguished Service Award and the Drake Medal of Service. His leadership to religious and civic organizations included the Des Moines School Board, a mayoral commission, membership in Wakonda Christian Church, service to the regional and general church, and helping to establish the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. In 2013 he established the John and Maxine McCaw Scholarship Fund for Prophetic Living, Teaching and Preaching, an endowed scholarship for seminarians which is administered by the College of Regional Ministers.

He is survived by three children, Milva Lou Sandison, Maxhn H. McCaw, and Janine G. McCaw Mack, and by their partners, children, and grandchildren. Memorial plans have not been announced.

June 24, 2020 —  

This was not the year we expected or could even have imagined when DDH began its 125th anniversary year. It has been a challenging but rewarding year. Many of DDH’s students finished the academic year in places they did not expect to be—literally dispersed by pandemic responses, sometimes also finding themselves in unanticipated emotional, intellectual, and spiritual places. The 2020 graduates are nevertheless ready to lead and to serve, even as they know the contexts of leadership and service are changing dramatically.

Confronting us all are realities of health precarity, global interdependency, racist brutality, and social suffering. DDH and its students have been challenged, stressed, horrified, enervated, activated, and animated by these days—often some of each in the same day. Students’ questions—about the nature of community, about how to teach, learn, worship, care, comfort, oppose injustice, bring about transformation, heal, and prevent harm—are lived and very real. Seldom have the purposes and contexts for pursuing vocations of ministry, teaching, and community leadership been more manifest than under the life-altering conditions of economic, social, and racial disparities of health and safety in which we are living.

We don’t yet know exactly what campus life will look like in the fall—the University will announce its plans later this month. But we do know that 3 entering DDH Scholars will join 18 returning Scholars plus additional ecumenical residents in a remarkable community of learning and support. By providing full scholarship support, durable connection, and learning that orients lifelong service, DDH will continue to advance preparation for vocations of vision, understanding, and transformation. Scholarships, staff, and building maintenance will not be reduced. Thanks to the generosity of alumni/ae and friends, DDH is as well situated as we could hope for facing current challenges.  

For the time being, DDH’s physical offices remain closed, as does the rest of the University, but the building is still “home” for ten students, six of whom are international students. DDH will continue to be a physical home next fall, using valuable lessons learned for creating a safe space. Not all 23 student rooms will be occupied in order to allow for more socially distanced interactions. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at Monday dinners won’t be possible, but conversation will rise in new forms. Study will continue in the library. The Chapel of the Holy Grail will still beckon and orient. As ever, students will go forth to envision and build new communities and ideas.

For 125 years, alumni/ae and friends have given their fierce dreams, their creativity and canny, and their most demanding ideas, not only to DDH but to the world. When we began this academic year, we could not have imagined the scale and scope of changes that would overtake us. To affirm that we are, nevertheless, grateful for what is to come, is to dedicate ourselves to prepare for a future that we cannot fully anticipate and that, ultimately, we will receive from the hands of others.    Kristine A. Culp, Dean

June 13, 2020 —  

DDH's 125th academic year concluded on June 12 with an online fanfare for the graduates, Kate Gerike, Kevin Gregory, Savannah Gross, and Victoria Wick, including a short celebration, blessing, and sending forth. All four received the Master of Divinity degree. House Scholar Victoria Wick will provide leadership for the Christian Temple in Baltimore this summer during the pastor's sabbatical; this fall she will return to Chicago for extended Clinical Pastoral Education at Northwestern Memorial Hospitals. Her senior ministry thesis was entitled, Salvation Stories. Kate Gerike, whose senior thesis addressed climate change, misplaced hope, and the power of God in the anthropocene, will complete her internship year with an ELCA congregation in Minnesota. Savannah Gross, who like Gerike was an ecumenical DDH resident for all three years of the degree, is now living in Alabama and considering next steps in her journey as a theologian. Kevin Gregory, who has served as DDH's librarian, has been called to service two United Methodist congregations in Minnesota. Special congratulations to Victoria Wick and Kate Gerike who received the Divinity School's highest recognition of MDiv graduates, the John Gray Rhind Award, for excellence in academic and professional training and promise of significant contribution to public ministry.

May 29, 2020 —  

Mark Lambert, a PhD candidate in Theology (pictured), has been awarded a Dissertation Fellowship by the Louisville Institute for 2020-21. His project, "The Sacramental Sickness: The Aesthetic Interplay between Leprosy and the Eucharist in Historical Theology," appraises the relationship between stigmatic illness and historical sacramental theology, especially the medieval Franciscan interpretation of leprosy alongside the sacrament of the Eucharist. Joel Brown, a PhD candidate in Religions in the Americas, has been selected by the Divinity School for the Alma Wilson Teaching Fellowship to support a teaching a course in the College, "Race and Religion in Chicago," that will draw on his archival research. Andrew Packman, a PhD candidate in Theology, was awarded a Dissertation Completion Fellowship by the Divinity School for his work, “The Racial Bondage of the Will: Recalcitrant Moral Self-Frustration, Social Affections, and the Tenacity of Structural Racism.”

MDiv students Aneesah Ettress and Benny VanDerburgh (also pictured) are recipients of Walker Ministerial Scholarships for 2020-21. Named in memory of Disciples leaders Granville T. and Erline Walker, the award recognizes outstanding promise in ministry, particularly in the area of preaching.

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.